How Much Salt is Too Much?

How Much Salt is Too Much?

Most people know that too much salt is unhealthy.  We know that it’s bad for blood pressure and can contribute to chronic diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, kidney problems or strokes.  But do you really know how much salt you consume per day in comparison with what you should consume?

Recommended Level:

The CDC recommends that healthy individuals consume 1500 mg of salt per day with 2300 mg being the absolute upper limit. For someone with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or kidney disease, the upper limit drops to 1500 mg per day. 

Yet, they also report that the average American eats 3,436 mg per day.  That’s more than twice the recommended level for a healthy body. 

How to reduce the level:

No one wants tasteless food, but unfortunately, as a society, we have gotten used to very salty foods.  It’s great to put down that salt shaker and quit adding salt to your meals, but unfortunately, that’s not enough. 

One of the best ways to drastically reduce the salt in your diet is to reduce your dependence on processed foods.  Processed foods have an inordinate amount of hidden salt.  In fact, more than 75% of the daily salt intake in a standard American diet comes from hidden salt in processed foods.  Simply cutting out the pre-made and pre-packaged foods can dramatically reduce a person’s salt intake. 

Processed foods, such has pre-packaged deli meats, frozen meals, canned soups, breads, salad dressings, crackers, potato chips, bouillon, and noodle or rice packages contain some of the highest amounts of hidden salt.

Some ideas!

The high-sodium list is scary only because that’s normal food for many people.  Trying to replace all processed foods with scratch-made foods seems overwhelming and for many – it’s just not viable.  But - it’s important to remember that even making small changes in diet can make a big difference to your health.  Find the exchanges that work for you and incorporate into your daily life. 

Instead of:  Pre-packaged chicken salad with ranch dressing, try this:

Put several no-salt and no-broth added chicken breasts into the crockpot the night before your meal with some water, garlic, oregano, onion powder and thyme.  Make your own salad with a pre-made, pre-washed greens mix, your shredded chicken and use a home-made oil and vinegar dressing. 

Instead of:  canned tuna with mayonnaise on white bread, try this: 

Buy wild-caught tuna steaks.  Rub with a mixture of a little bit of olive oil, pepper, lemon zest and cayenne pepper.  Broil, grill or bake using medium heat until just pink in the middle.  Slice and add to low-sodium wraps or pita pockets.  Finish the sandwich with some butter lettuce and fresh tomatoes. 

Instead of:  Picking up the entire dinner at the local Chinese restaurant, try this: 

Get about ½ the amount of Chinese food you normally get.  When you get home, add a big bag of fresh steamed or frozen no-salt added vegetables to the dish.  If you don’t wish to add more vegetables to the dish itself, simply make your Chinese meal a side dish and pair it with a big side salad, a sliced cucumber salad or some grilled marinated portabella mushrooms with oil, pepper and a few dashes of lemon juice.