salt diet

Are You Eating the Saltiest Foods in America?

Good news: Taking some seriously salty foods off your menu can slim your waistline, protect your brain, and save your life.

Are You Eating the Saltiest Foods in America?

Check the label: Frozen dinners are likely to be packed with way more salt than you need.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Earlier this year, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its new dietary guidelines, you could almost hear a simultaneous yawn across America. Many dieticians criticized its "more-of-the-same" recommendations that are clearly not working to keep our nation's weight and health in check.

There was one point in the guidelines, however, that sparked universal approval: They took an ax to the maximum amount of salt we should eat on a daily basis. And a low-salt diet is now recommended for everyone, not just the overweight or people living with chronic health issues. "Though salt often gets ignored by dieters and healthy eaters, it’s actually one of the deadliest ingredients in the food supply," explains Heather Jones, RD, author of The Salt Solution. "Most people are seriously overdosing on sodium."

THE DETAILS: Americans adults, on average, take in nearly 3,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day, mostly through salty food, but it sneaks in through beverages and condiments, too. The new guidelines stipulate that adults in general should toe the line and eat no more than 2,300 mg of salt a day—about one teaspoon's worth. Anyone 51 or older and/or living with high blood pressure, as well as all African American adults, is encouraged to limit sodium intake to just 1,500 mg.

It's well known that eating too much salt is linked to heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. But more and more research is finding that a high-salt diet causes other serious and life-threatening diseases, including these three:

1. Cancer—A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at 80,000 Japanese adults and found that excess salt is linked to a 15-percent higher risk of developing cancer.

2. Osteoporosis—High-salt diets also effect bone health, explains Jones. "High-salt diets have been shown to increase calcium loss," she explains. "When your bones lose calcium, they become weak. Over time, this leads to osteoporosis."

Jones points out that for every 2,300 mg of sodium ingested, on average, you excrete about 20 to 60 more milligrams of calcium.

3. Dementia—Other studies have found a link between high blood pressure and dementia. Since too much salt can send blood pressure skyrocketing, cutting out excess sodium could help save your brain, too. "Researchers have shown that treating hypertension can reduce dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease by half," says Jones. "Maybe your forgetfulness isn’t due to getting older—it could be caused by how much salt you eat!"


Published on: March 1, 2011

More from our Authors

Learn the simple secret that helps you lose weight and erase chronic symptoms.
Are You Weight Loss-Resistant?
You're doing everything "right," but you still can't lose weight? Sign up for our newsletter and get JJ Virgin's 7 strategies to break through your weight loss-resistance as our thanks! Click here to learn more.

Free Newsletter
Sign up for the FREE daily newsletter and get useful tips to keep yourself, your family, and the planet healthy and thriving.

  The Daily Fix
The food, health and environment news you need to help you live a healthy life on a healthy planet.

  Maria's Farm Country Kitchen Newsletter
Get cooking tips, learn about healthy living and even raising chickens.

Your Privacy Policy