Its at the dinner table, and usually in everything you’re eating: salt! Similar to sugar, salt is a tasty flavor that we love to experience when dining. But what is unfortunate, too much sodium is harmful to the body and can pose several health risks. We might need to reconsider our sodium intake!
The Problem Of Sodium
So why exactly is salt so bad? Our bodies actually require a small amount of sodium to function, approximately one hundred eight to five hundred milligrams per day. Guess what the average American consumes? Three thousand four hundred milligrams! When you consume an excess in sodium, the body tries to dilute it by retaining water. The increased volume of blood strains blood vessels and eventually stiffens them.
The effects of eating too much sodium could lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, heart attack, cardiovascular disease, and damage to the kidneys, bones, aorta, and heart. Scary, huh?
What Should You Do?
There’s no sugar coating salt: a diet high in sodium can wreak havoc on our bodies. Salt can help preserve food and make a meal taste that much more savory. But the negative side to sodium is just too bad to ignore.
Salt is in nearly everything we eat. Thankfully, naturally occurring salt in fruits and vegetables is significantly lower than the amounts in restaurant and processed foods. How do we lower our salt intake?
- Stop eating out! Cooking at home can not only be a fun experience, it can be significantly healthier.
- Similarly to restaurant food, pre-made and processed foods are packed with salt. Avoid them and opt for home cooked meals.
- Canned foods, you guessed it, have a lot of sodium! Get into the practice of rinsing your canned vegetables and beans. This can wash off a great deal of unnecessary sodium.
- We all love a handful of bacon in the morning. Perhaps it is the salt content that makes bacon so tasty. Several meats like bacon, sausages, hot dogs, cold cuts, etc. contain far more salt than we need. Try some low-sodium options including fish, poultry, and pork.
- Cheese, yes cheese, is usually processed and has hidden sodium. Be careful when you are shopping for your favorite cheese spreads or blocks and seek out the low-sodium versions!
- True, fruits and vegetables are indeed healthy for you. But canned, packaged, and processed options leave you with too much salt. Fresh, dried, and frozen fruits and vegetables have an appropriate amount of sodium. Just look out for unwanted salty sauces!
What If You Ate Too Much Salt?
Don’t worry! You can combat a high sodium intake:
1. Drink plenty of water. Since fluid retention and eating too much salt go hand-in-hand, drink water. This will counteract the fluid retention, flush out the salt, and can even decrease bloating!
2. Sodium and potassium work alongside each other to regulate the amount of water in your body. To neutralize your body, eat more foods that contain potassium.
3. Exercise. As if you didn’t already need an excuse for physical activity! Exercising obviously makes you sweat, eliminating excess sodium. So get that heart rate up and remember to stay hydrated!