In the not too distant past, when a person was said to “feel salty”, they had suffered public embarrassment of being wrong about something! So, how salty are we, really?
Recently, the health community has stressed the importance of reducing salt intake in our diets. Too much salt intake has been connected to illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and high-blood pressure. Cardiovascular diseases are those that cause heart and blood vessel illnesses, the two most common of which is heart disease and stroke. Reducing salt intake will yield the same benefit of reducing tobacco use, obesity and cholesterol levels. In addition, reducing salt in one’s diet is easy and cost effective. One simply has to reduce his or her salt intake.
I have heard some people say that they just can’t eat food without salt, suggesting that this is easier said than done; which leads me to ponder, can a person be addicted to salt? I must admit that I have not found any medical evidence that salt can be addictive. The American diet is full of salt and reports reveal that nearly 90% of salt intake comes from processed foods. Processed foods exclude any raw agricultural product. Conversely, foods that have been processed by canning, cooking, freezing, dehydration or milling are considered processed, according to the World Health Organization. Consequently, virtually all the food consumed in the American diet is processed and full of salt. Still, according to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention, if Americans would reduce their salt intake by 3 grams per day it would drastically reduce the number of new cases of coronary heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
Another part of my research found that there is about the same amount of sodium in sea salt and table salt. However, because sea salt is processed more naturally (basically through dehydration) and table salt is processed through iodizing (an additive that helps prevent table salt from clumping), sea salt tastes better, requires less to satisfy that salty taste that people desire and also comes in coarse and fine granulation. Most sea salt does not contain iodine, however, the National Institutes of Health states is a necessary nutrient for the body to make thyroid hormones, which control the body’s metabolism, bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy and other important body functions. Sources of iodine include fish, dairy products, fruits and vegetables and iodized salt. Humans do not naturally produce iodine.
So here are the statistics. The average daily intake of salt for Americans 2 years and older is 3436 mg. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) recommends between 1500 and 2300 mgs of sodium a day. Obviously, our intake on average is much higher than it should be. However, even with recommended and tolerable amounts of salt, the CDC states that our bodies only need between 180 and 500 mgs of salt a day
Here is what I think. I think we have become so used to adding salt and other ingredients to our food that we have not allowed the natural flavors of food to come through. The taste of natural foods is so good, especially in fruits and vegetables that in many cases, we would not even need additives if we really knew what they taste like. Furthermore, I suspect that there may be an addiction to salt: to its taste and to its effect on our systems. I’m not a doctor. That’s just a suspicion I have. I suggest that we all try to gradually cut back on our salt intake, give the natural flavors of food an opportunity to satisfy our palates and get back to the way nature intended us to enjoy the many natural tastes that it provides. The benefits most definitely include lowering the risks of many cardiovascular illnesses and may open the door to a healthier, more satisfying life.
Let’s try it and see!
Praying for your long and healthy living,