Posted on: December 14, 2015
Salt Sense: How Much is Too Much Salt?
By Jill Ashbey-Pejoves
Most of us know that eating too much salt isn’t good for us. It causes our bodies to retain fluid, which increases our blood pressure and makes our heart work harder. Over time, this can do significant damage to blood vessels.
A new rule requiring chain restaurants in NYC to clearly identify (with a salt shaker symbol) the high sodium options on their menu will benefit everyone, but they only have to do that for items containing 2300 milligrams of sodium or more. That’s the equivalent of a teaspoon of salt, or an entire day’s worth. The typical American consumes well over that, and it’s not just adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 9 out of 10 children eat too much salt, and 1 in 6 have elevated blood pressure.
Simply by understanding that most of the salt (75%) we eat comes from processed, prepackage and restaurant foods, we can all take steps today to eat less salt. Here’s what you can do:
When You’re Eating Out
- Pay attention to those salt shaker symbols, and if you’re not in NYC, you can plan ahead, most chain restaurants post the nutritional values of their menus online, or can provide them on request.
- Order dressings and sauces on the side, they are often loaded with salt.
- Be careful with condiments like ketchup, mustard and pickles.
- Be alert for words like pickled, brined, barbecued, cured, and smoked on the menu.
- Avoid the salt shaker.
When You’re Eating At Home
- Focus on fresh foods
- Add flavor with onions, garlic, citrus, herbs, and vinegar
- Rinse canned beans and vegetables
- Adding potassium rich foods like fruits and vegetables can help improve blood pressure
- Avoid the salt shaker and the sea salt which has just as much sodium as table salt
Editor’s Note: Jill Ashbey-Pejoves, RDN, CDE, CDN is the Lead Clinical Dietitian & Diabetes Educator at Northern Westchester Hospital