Hidden salt in your diet makes your blood pressure rise. Most fast food has loads of hidden salt.
It makes you fat too. But did you know, salt can make your bones thinner and prone to fracture? If you didn’t know this you must read to know more. What I will cover in this post.
1) Why your body needs the sodium
Sodium keeps your body fluids optimum. It helps your muscles and nerves to work properly. Table salt or common salt has sodium and chloride. You have an active sodium pump. Molecular pumps in your cells, keep extracellular sodium high.
When an electric current is needed, cells allow the positively charged sodium ions into the cell, generating a positive electric current.
Sodium retains water in blood vessels, maintaining blood volume. Sodium is an essential element in your body. But very low or very high levels of sodium is harmful.
Your normal sodium level: 135 to 145 mEq/L
High Sodium: More than 145 mEq/L serum sodium. Hypernatremia may be acute or chronic.
Acute rise in sodium level: It will make you lethargic or restless. Hypernatremia increases deep tendon reflexes, muscle spasticity, and seizures.
Chronic Hypernatremia is a silent killer. Put an almond in salt water and see what happens to it!
2)How does too much sodium harm you? What happens if you don’t lower the sodium in your diet?
Effect on your Arteries:
It will increase blood pressure. That puts you on a speeding train of poor cardiovascular health.
Your heart has a limited capacity of circulating body fluids. With the blood volume increases, your arteries are overworked.Y our heart is overworked. Your heart never rests. Yes! That’s why you need to take care of your heart.
Result: High risk of heart attack and stroke.
The kidneys have a difficult time removing excess sodium from your blood.
Increasing Sodium, the body holds on to water to dilute the sodium.
This again increases pressure on your heart and arteries and causes poor cardiovascular health.
Diabetes will increase problems.
Effect on your bones
Too much salt in your diet will cause Osteoporosis and thin your bones..
The sodium and calcium excretion through urine is related. The higher the amount of sodium, that needs to be excreted, higher is the calcium need. If the blood level of calcium is low, the bones lose calcium to support, right concentration in blood. This leads to bone thinning or osteoporosis. With age, this will make your bone brittle. Even with minor trauma bone is fractured.
Other risks of a High sodium diet High sodium diet is also related to stomach cancer.
More sodium=more water weight. You can seem heavier than your body weight due to excess retained body water.
3)How much salt a day is safe?
Babies more than 6 months /less than 12 months:1 gram
1 to 3 years: 2 gram (0.8 g sodium)
4 to 6 years – 3g of salt a day (1.2g sodium)
7 to 10 years – 5g of salt a day (2g sodium)
11 years and over – 6g of salt a day (2.4g sodium)
The latest dietary guidelines recommend, keeping sodium levels below 2,300 milligrams, or just 1 teaspoon, per day.
American Heart Association (AHA) has encouraged people to keep their intake below 1,500 mg.
4)Do you have hidden salt in diet?
Salt is notoriously ‘hidden’ in many foods. That’s why it’s difficult to estimate your intake correctly. I will tell you how sodium is sneakily creeping into your diet.I will also tell you how to fight this.
70 to 80 percent of the sodium in your diet is from processed food and junk food.
5)Hidden salt sources
- Table spreads.
- Fast food.
- Breakfast cereals
- Vegetable juices
- Packaged cottage cheese
- Most processed food such as bread, breakfast cereals, ready-made soups tinned food, even biscuits.
- Ready-made masala mixes
- Ready-made batters,
- Instant meals
- Any mix where the ingredients are all powder. Check the food label before buying any quick fix meals
- Smoked, cured, salted or canned meat, fish or poultry including bacon, cold cuts, ham, frankfurters, sausage, sardines, caviar and Burritos, and pizza.
- Canned ravioli, spam, and chili.
- Salted nuts.
- Beans canned with salt added.
- Popcorn in movie theatres
- Packaged baked goods. Packaged baked goods need sodium as a preservative. Additionally, salt is often needed during baking. Sodium is also a part of baking soda (1259mg sodium per teaspoon). These treats already have a lot of negative things going for them (lots of calories, fat, and sometimes trans fat). With the salt overload, these junk food are dangerous!
- Most fast food
6)Sodium is present in many food additives
- Monosodium glutamate
- Sodium bicarbonate
- Sodium nitrite
- Sodium benzoate(Potential carcinogen; never use with Vitamin C)
Food with these chemicals may not be salty but still have high sodium content.
What about sea salt?
It contains the same amount of sodium per gram as table salt.
7)How to read the Food label for Sodium
The lack of proper nutrition labels on locally produced food.Wide differences in salt concentration, even in the same type of products. Shockingly 75%of your diets sodium comes from ready-made highly processed food. Salt added to cooking makes up only a small amount.
Best way to prevent hidden salt entry is to read food labels.
High salt food: Sodium content more than 1.5 gram per 100 gram.
Reduced sodium: food has only 25% less sodium than the original product. May not actually have low sodium.
Low Salt: Less than 0.3 gram salt per 100 gram.
Lightly salted: 50% less sodium than the original product.
Low sodium: 140 mg of sodium or less per serving.
Very low sodium:35 mg of sodium or less
Sodium free/salt-free: Less than 5mg per serving
Popular instant Noodle
Per 100gram serving sodium content 1..28 gram. That’s more than the RDA of 4 to 6 year old who loves this). Per serve the sodium content is still high at 449mg . That’s one-third of the sodium allowed per day (for 4 to 6 year old).
Chocolate chip cookies mention sodium salt without mentioning sodium content per 100-gram serving. The problem is children are at risk from a high level of hidden sodium. Their role is suspected in childhood obesity.
Instant masala oats lists salt among its first 3 ingredients in the masala. The first 3 listed items are the highest in concentration. Doesn’t give sodium content per 100-gram serving.
This item is obviously, salty. It’s also interesting. I actually stumbled on this while doing research for this post. Oats is promoted as a healthy dietary product.
Rightly so. It’s one of the best sources of low glycemic breakfast cereal. But highly processed instant oats? Super high sodium content? This product seriously misses the bus as a healthy breakfast option. It harms the very customer it aims. Hypertensive, overweight people should not be having high sodium food. It’s better to buy the unprocessed machine cut oats any day.
How to reduce salt during cooking?
1)Avoid ready-made processed food, pickles, fried bhujiya, chips, baked goods, ready to cook mixes, masala mixes, sauces, soups and anything where you caný identify the ingredients individually. If you do have them; have it in moderation.
2)Don’t marinate with salt. Use a mix of spices to marinate.
You can add garlic, ginger, turmeric, jeera,dhaniya,garam masala, parsley, dill, lemon juice, dry roasted spices as part of your marinade to bring the flavor out.
Add salt 5 minutes before taking cooked food off the heat. This allows the sodium chloride to remain linked giving the salty taste you desire. But doesn’t increase total sodium.
What happens when you marinate with salt?
When salt is added to food too early in the cooking process, the sodium and chlorine of sodium chloride break down. The sodium enters the food and the food doesn’t taste salty.
This is because sodium and chlorine together as a chemical compound create the distinctively salty taste. So you end up giving more salt to the end dish and increase the total sodium in your food.
3)Have right amount of potassium in your diet.
4)Wash and rinse thoroughly canned veggies to get rid of the salt solution. If possible avoid canned fruits and vegetables and go for fresh produce.
5)Ask for low sodium options in restaurants.
What happens to your body when you cut down sodium?
- Your heart thanks you
- Better cardiovascular health.
- Decrease the risk of stomach cancer
- Decrease risk of osteoporosis
- By decreasing sodium in the diet, you will improve your body calcium balance. This definitely lowers bone loss during aging.
- You can even lose weight short term and long term. You can lose up to 5 pounds safely just by eliminating salty food. But remember, this is water weight, not fat. If you eat less salt your kidneys need less water to function. So less water is stored in your body and you actually “lose ” weight. Your body is 60%water, so losing a few pounds of water weight will not harm you.
Long term low sodium diet :
- Low salt in your food you have fewer sugar cravings.
- Cutting down on salt means you avoid processed junk food.
- This will decrease your calorie load.
Result: Weight loss in a healthy way.
In Conclusion what you must do
- Read food labels.
- Avoid processed food as far as possible.
- Gradually cut down on hidden salt traps.
- Choose products with less than 140 mg of sodium per serving.
How are you cutting down on salt?Let me know in the comments below.
(Disclaimer: This article is meant for educational purpose to help spread awareness. It is not a substitute for a professional medical consultation)
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