Salt and sodium are terms that often use interchangeably, but salt and sodium are not the same. Salt is an ingredient while sodium is a nutrient. Sodium is present in many plants and animal based foods – one rich source is goat milk.
Recommended Daily Consumption of Salt: Most people consume excess salt above and beyond what is required for proper bodily function. Studies have shown that healthy individual can tolerate excessive salt intakes, from 250 mg/day to over 30,000 mg/day, because the excess salt is typically discarded by the kidneys. However, a genetic abnormality preventing the absorption of chloride may cause cystic fibrosis which can be detected by testing the saltiness of a person’s sweat.
- Minimum 500 mg/day
- Maximum 2,500mg/ day
Function of Salt in Food Preparation:
- Salt improves the flavor of many foods.
- Salt is a natural food preservative because it lowers the “water activity” of food, reducing the microbial growth.
- In bread making salt works to influence the strength, expansion and texture of dough.
- In cheese making, salt is required to cure and develop cheese’s consistency.
Health Benefits of Sodium:
- Sodium is essential in the transmission of nerve impulses signaling the heart muscle to contract.
- Sodium helps maintain fluid balance, pH levels, aids in the absorption of nutrients and regulate blood pressure.
- Sodium helps digestion.
- When the immune system is under attack, sodium fights infections.
- It is important for pregnant women to consume iodized salt, Iodine Deficiency Disorders (IDD) are the major cause of preventable mental retardation.
Foods Rich in Sodium: Goat milk, cucumber, seaweeds, tomatoes.
Negative effect of low salt intake: The sudden reduction of salt can be just as harmful as consuming large amounts of it. An individual in a very low salt diet can experience;
- Spasms (sudden involuntary movement of muscle)
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Increase risk of heart attack in hypertensive patients.
- Even sudden death
Negative Effect of High salt Diet: As with anything, too much salt may cause problems. Some of the problems include the following:
- Hypertension or high blood pressure.
- High acidity, which may cause cancer.
Foods High in Salt: Potato chips, salted nuts, pickles, condiments (mustard, ketchup, salad dressings and barbeque sauces) cereals, cold cuts, canned and frozen vegetables, prepackaged meals, and commercially baked goods are usually high in sodium.
Common Food Labeling Terms and Its Meaning:
- Reduced sodium has 75% less than the original commercial version of the product.
- Low sodium has 140mg or less than the original commercial version of the product. (Be sure to check the serving size on the label; many are smaller than those most people eat.)
- Sodium free provides less than 5mg per serving.
- No added salt, or unsalted, means that salt was not used during processing; this doesn’t guarantee, however, that the product is low in sodium.
- Also check the labels for code terms, such as brine, broth, cured, corned, pickled, soy sauce, and teriyaki sauce which indicate other high-sodium ingredients have been added.
Tips on How to Avoid or Reduce Salt Intake:
- For many people, adding salt to food at the table is a reflex response to seeing the salt shaker; if you remove the shaker from the table, you may not miss the salt.
- Herbs and spices, unsalted garlic or onion powder, and lemon juice are healthful alternative to salt. Adding these ingredients shortly before serving keeps their flavors from being lost during prolonged cooking.
- In restaurants where the food is cooked to order, you can request the chef to lessen or just cook your meal without adding salt.
- Many over-the-counter medications contain sodium. If you are on a sodium-restricted diet, check with you physician or pharmacist before using antacids, painkillers, or laxatives.
“This post was originally published on August 11, 2012 @ 04:33”