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Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Real Deal on Salt

For several years, salt was the bad guy and always in health news. I don't see much about salt lately, but I'm here to tell you, salt is not always your friend. Confession: I love salty chips and peanuts, salt on the rim of my margarita and I do buy some processed foods. Let's learn more about salt.

Salt or sodium is necessary for several body functions: it helps to maintain the balance of fluids in your body, transmit nerve impulses and influences the contraction and relaxation of your muscles.

The kidneys regulate the amount of salt in the body and any excess is carried in the blood. Because salt attracts water, blood volume is increased and the heart has to work harder when we have too much sodium in our blood. Fluid retention can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney disease.

We only need about 1500 to 2400 milligrams (mg) of salt a day. The main sources of salt in the typical U.S. diet come from: processed foods like soup, lunch meat and canned vegetables, sodium containing condiments like soy sauce and ketchup, and natural sources like dairy products and fresh meat.

You can see that it is really important to watch your sodium intake, especially if you already have high blood pressure, heart disease or kidney disease. I try to use low or no salt added canned products, cook with fresh produce and avoid certain foods as much as possible, like chips. It is possible to learn to like having less salt on your food.

I found a great website that is easy to understand for more information and tips on sodium and other health questions - Search for articles on sodium.