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Americans Consume Too Much Salt

The famous slogan, “When It Rains It Pours” was first seen on the blue package with the Morton Salt Umbrella Girl. This slogan is recognized by most Americans and the Umbrella Girl can be seen in almost every kitchen throughout America. Americans are bringing truth to the slogan, originally using salt complement meals and now pouring it on in excess.

risks of excess salt in our diets

How much is too much when it comes to salt?

Our bodies do require some salt to regulate heartbeat and balance fluids within the body but in today’s society, salt is overused. The average American puts salt on almost every meal to enhance the flavor not to mention all the processed goods consumed on a daily basis which are loaded with salt. Even meals at restaurants are sodium packed. Consuming more than the requirement leads to kidney strain, high blood pressure, even heart attack and stroke. We should limit sodium consumption to less than 2,300 milligrams a day.*

I never really gave much attention to my sodium intake until I started flying. Flying magnifies problems that you may be normally unaware of on a daily basis. As I mentioned, I didn’t know I was dehydrated until I started flying. Similarly, I did not notice how much salt I ate until I got up to 35,000 ft. After eating the meals on the plane or even just a few bags of the salty snack mix, I was blowing up like a balloon. The waistline on my pants would feel too tight and even my bra would start to irritate me. At first, I thought maybe it was because my clothes were old or I had gained weight but then realized a correlation between the comfort level of my clothes and how much salt I consumed. The excess in sodium caused me to bloat. The days I avoid the saltier choices, are the days I feel much better!

Unfortunately, you can’t monitor your sodium intake solely on salty taste. My downfall was hot sauce. I love spicy food. I used to carry hot sauce with me everywhere I went. It didn’t taste super salty so I overlooked the amount of sodium it contained. One of my favorites, Sriracha, contains over 100mg in one serving (5g). This is true of many other hot sauces and processed products. Since then, I have learned the importance of reading the labels and have minimized my hot sauce use. My substitutes are cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. Not only are these sodium free but they also have great health benefits like migraine preventions, anti-inflammatory, digestive air, supports weight loss and improves heart-health, just to name a few.

Additionally, I have found more salt alternatives to enhance flavor in my cooking. I make my own sauces and often leave salt out of recipes entirely (or cut the suggested amount in half) I use natural seasonings and herbs to add or create my own flavor. There are plenty of ways to avoid consuming too much salt but the best begin in the kitchen. Start cooking at home. A home cooked meal is almost always a healthier option than eating out or microwaving a tv dinner. Cooking at home lets you take control over the ingredients and portions. But if you really can’t find joy in cooking, keep your eye on the nutrition labels. Even though a small amount of salt does the body good, don’t get carried away. Remember, excessive sodium is often hidden in food where you would least expect it.

*Sources:
“Americans Consume Too Much Sodium (Salt).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 24 Feb. 2011. Web. 04 Feb. 2013.

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