Salt (NaCl) is a natural mineral made up of white cube-shaped crystals composed of two elements, sodium and chlorine. It is translucent, colorless, and usually odorless and has a distinctive and characteristic taste. It is commonly used for seasoning or preserving food.
Sodium is a mineral that is essential for life. It is regulated in the body by the kidneys, and it is involved in controlling the body’s fluid balance. It also helps with the transmission of nerve impulses and affects muscle function.
When there is extra sodium in your bloodstream, it pulls water into your blood vessels, increasing the total amount (volume) of blood, which results in an increase in your blood pressure. If your blood pressure remains elevated for years, over time it may overstretch or injure the blood vessel walls and speed the build up of gunky plaque that can block blood flow. Additionally, The added pressure may strain the heart and force it to work harder to pump blood through the body.
Table Salt is approximately 40% sodium and 60% chloride. The majority of the sodium that persons eat comes from some processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods and not from the salt shaker. The salt that we put into the food we cook only makes up about 10 percent of our total sodium intake, so even if you never use the salt shaker, you’re probably getting too much sodium.
DAILY SALT REQUIREMENT
Adults should eat no more than 6g of salt per day. That is 2.4g sodium (or 2400mg sodium), which is around 1 teaspoon.
The maximum amount of salt children should have depends on their age:
SALT VS SODIUM
Remember that salt is made up of sodium and chloride combined. Some food labels may only state the sodium content. Don't confuse salt and sodium figures.
To convert sodium to salt, you need to multiply the sodium amount by 2.5. (For example, 1g of sodium per 100g is 2.5 grams of salt per 100g.)
Here are some sodium-related terms you may see on food packages:
SEA SALT VS TABLE SALT
Sea salt is obtained directly through the evaporation of seawater. It is usually not processed, or it undergoes minimal processing, and therefore retains trace levels of minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium and other nutrients.
Table salt is mined from salt deposits and then processed to give it a fine texture so it’s easier to mix and use in recipes. Processing strips table salt of any minerals it may have contained, and additives are also usually added to prevent clumping or caking.
There is very little difference between sea salt and table salt in terms of sodium content. However, some sea salt may contain less iodine than table salt. A deficiency of iodine can lead to the formation of a goiter (an enlarged thyroid gland).
TIPS TO REDUCE SALT/ SODIUM IN DIET:
Choose packaged and prepared foods carefully. Compare labels and choose the product with the lowest amount of sodium (per serving) you can find in the store.
Pick fresh and frozen poultry that hasn’t been injected with a sodium solution. Check the fine print on the packaging for terms like “broth,” “saline” or “sodium solution.”
Choose condiments carefully. For example, soy sauce, bottled salad dressings, dips, ketchup, jarred salsas, mustard, pickles, olives and relish can be extremely high in sodium. Look for a reduced or lower-sodium version.
Choose canned vegetables labeled “no salt added” and frozen vegetables without salty sauces.
WHEN PREPARING FOOD
Use onions, garlic, herbs, spices, citrus juices and vinegars in place of some or all of the salt to add flavor to foods.
Drain and rinse canned beans and vegetables – this can cut the sodium content significantly.
Cook by grilling, braising, roasting, searing, and sautéing to bring out the natural flavors in foods – that will reduce the need to add salt.
Taste your food before adding salt. If you think it needs a boost of flavor, add freshly ground black pepper or a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime and test it again before adding salt. Lemon and pepper are especially good on fish, chicken, and vegetables.
Watch out for foods described using the words pickled, brined, barbecued, cured, smoked, broth, au jus, soy sauce, miso, or teriyaki sauce. These tend to be high in sodium. Foods that are steamed, baked, grilled, poached or roasted may have less sodium.
Control portion sizes. When you cut calories, you usually cut the sodium too. Ask if smaller portions are available or share the meal with a friend. Or, ask for a to-go box when you order and place half the meal in the box to eat later.
American Heart Association
Visit http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Sodium-and-Salt_UCM_303290_Article.jsp#.WtPD2IUmbV0 for more information.
I hope these tips on SALT were helpful; Remember, YOUR HEALTH IS INVALUABLE.
Dr. J. Lawarna Matthew