March 10 – 16 is World Salt Awareness Week

Eat Less Salt

When it comes to awareness about salt consumption, most of us know that consuming too much salt (sodium) can hurt our health. But does this automatically lead to us consuming a safe amount of salt? In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 90 percent of Americans eat too much salt. "Too much sodium raises blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke," says the CDC's Dr. Thomas R. Frieden.

To cut down on salt, many people move the salt shaker from the table, leave out or reduce salt in recipes as they cook, and avoid foods that are naturally high in sodium. This is a good start. But the greatest amount of salt in our diet—about 65 percent—comes from packaged foods and restaurant items.

According to the CDC, 10 types of foods are responsible for more than 40 percent of people's sodium intake:

  • luncheon meats such as deli ham or turkey
  • pizza
  • poultry
  • soups
  • cheeseburgers and other sandwiches
  • pasta dishes
  • meat dishes such as meat loaf
  • snack foods such as potato chips, pretzels and popcorn.

Even foods that aren't particularly high in salt, such as most breads, can provide too much if you eat them several times a day.

You can lower your sodium intake by eating more fresh, unprocessed foods. Read product labels: different brands of the same food item may have very different salt amount. Even foods advertised as "low-sodium" may have an unacceptable amount for your needs. Talk to your healthcare provider about your sodium consumption and your target goal for reducing salt in your diet.

For More Information

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers resources to help people identify the sources of salt and cut back on salt consumption:

"More Americans Should Consume Less Sodium", a consumer guide to understanding the risks of eating too much salt.

"Sodium and Food Sources", a guide to understanding that when it comes to salt, not all foods are created equal!

"Salt Matters: Preserving Choice, Protecting Health", a 15-minute video on avoiding excess salt intake.

March is also National Nutrition Month! Read on to the next article for tips on avoiding a big healthy eating pitfall: restaurant dining.

Source: Assisting Hands Home Care in association with IlluminAge. Copyright © IlluminAge, 2014