Just Say "Na" to Sodium
Phrases we all hear over and over is “eat less salt,” "salt is bad for you," We all know this, but what do they really mean? Let's dig a little deeper.
Eating too much sodium can increase your risk for serious medical conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, kidney disease, fluid retention, etc.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, which is around 1 teaspoon. If you have heart disease it is recommended to consume 1,500 mg per day. However, the average intake for Americans is around 3,400 mg or more per day! 2/3’s of American’s daily sodium intake comes from what is already in the food we eat without even picking up the salt shaker!
Some hidden sources of sodium include cottage cheese, processed meats, boxed mixes such as macaroni and cheese, soups, and packaged breads. Processed foods and restaurant foods contribute a large amount of sodium to our diet. It is estimated that more than 70% of the sodium we consume is from processed foods and restaurant meals.
When shopping at the grocery store, you may notice many types of salt options to choose from including table salt, sea salt, kosher salt, lite salt, and Himalayan pink salt.
What are the differences between these types of salt? And is one type better than the other?
It is important to remember that all forms of salt contain sodium and may impact your health.*
Let's break it down:
Table salt: Also called iodized salt, as it is fortified with iodine for thyroid health. Table salt works well in cooking and baking. It is usually highly refined which removes most of the impurities and trace minerals. Calcium silicate, an anticaking agent, is often added to table salt to prevent table salt from getting lumpy and to pour easily from the container. 1 tsp table salt contains ~2,325 mg of sodium.
Sea salt: Is made through the evaporation of salt water. Depending on the source of water, it may contain some trace minerals. The minerals depend on the water source and lead to the different flavors and colors of seat salt. Sea salt is less ground than table salt making it courser with a more potent flavor. Because it has a stronger flavor, some individuals may end up using less sea salt than table salt when adding to foods. Even though sea salt is often touted as being healthier than table salt, the sodium content is comparable and the small amount of mineral differences offers no known health advantages. 1 tsp of sea salt contains ~2,300 mg sodium.
Kosher salt: Is larger-grained with a lighter, flakier texture. There is very little difference between Kosher salt and table salt besides its grain size. Because of its larger grain size, there is less sodium per teaspoon compared to table salt. However, to achieve the same level of saltiness you need the same amount of weight of kosher salt as table salt which would provide the same amount of sodium. 1 tsp kosher salt contains 1,800 mg of sodium.
Lite salt: Contains about 50% of the sodium of regular table salt. A blend of sodium chloride (table salt) and potassium chloride. Lite salt is helpful in cutting sodium intake but has more of a metallic or bitter taste. Check with your physician about using these or salt replacers if you are on certain medications or have kidney problems. Remember, lite salt is NOT salt free! 1 tsp lite salt contains ~1,160 mg sodium.
Himalayan pink salt: Himalayan salt is harvested in Pakistan and often contains trace amounts of iron oxide (rust), which gives it a pink color. Potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium are found in small amounts. Himalayan salt also contains slightly lower amounts of sodium. This type of salt is known as a finishing salt, bringing out flavors of foods and adding a crunchy texture. 1 tsp Himalayan pink salt contains ~1,700 mg sodium.
Sodium can add up quickly! Imagine you’re at a ballpark and want a classic ballpark food, the hotdog!
1 hot dog= 700 mg sodium
1 bun= 210 mg sodium
1 TBS Ketchup= 167 mg sodium
1TBS Mustard= 171 mg sodium
1 TBS Sweet Relish=122 mg sodium
Total Sodium= 1,364 mg sodium
*I am not saying to eliminate hotdogs from your diet by any means! I recommend being mindful of your sodium intake and if you enjoy a hotdog at a ballpark aim for lower sodium foods the rest of the day!*
Remember reading labels, adding less salt overall and eating more fresh, unprocessed foods is what’s most important to reduce your sodium intake!
Here are some cooking tips to help lower your sodium intake!
1. Add aromatics - Onions, garlic, and shallots can significantly increase the flavor of any dish. Increasing any of these ingredients in a recipe will lend big taste without missing the salt.