The latest Nutrition Action Health Letter gave an example of one New York City grill who’s Hog Burger includes a hefty 9,790 mg of salt, over SIX-TIMES the daily value (based on the American Heart Associations recommended daily value of 1,500 mg/day)! OMG, I can hear my blood pressure rising just talking about it! Another example is Stouffer’s Lasagna; one serving (and let’s be honest, who eats just one serving?) has 960 mg of sodium, almost a day’s worth. How much potassium will you find here? Zero. Do you see why salt gets such a bad rap? These are dangerous levels of sodium! Maintaining this pattern of eating will raise blood pressure and increase the risk of heart attach and stroke. Nutrition Action estimates that 100,000 lives could be saved every year by cutting salt use by one third or half.
So where do we get the potassium we need to balance all this salt? Fruits and veggies. Add potassium to your diet by eating a side salad with lemon and olive oil dressing (none of that white goopy stuff), munch on some carrot sticks, bell peppers, and celery with guacamole or hummus, and sip a smoothie with leafy greens, avocado, banana, and blueberries. Your heart will thank you and you could add years to your life.
Now, like I mentioned at the beginning, salt does play an important role in the body. It’s when we consume it in high amounts and without it’s partner, potassium, that we put ourselves at risk. When cooking at home, be sure to use pink Himalayan sea salt. It’s pink because it contains more minerals than table salt, which is pure sodium chloride (NaCl). Pink salt, or any colored salt for that matter, contains small amounts of potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium. In fact, sea salt is where many of the mineral supplements are derived from. So save yourself some money on supplements and use unadulterated salt!
If you find you use a lot of salt because you can’t taste your food without it, you may be zinc deficient. Zinc plays an important role in taste and is a mineral that much of the population is deficient in. You may want to consider a supplement. Talk to your nutrition consultant about how much and what type is best for you.
(1) WHF (2016) available at http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=90&tname=nutrient