Salt of the Earth?

Reprinted from PN October 2012

Reducing the intake of table salt is important for everyone, but especially for the good health of people with spinal-cord injury.

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Good health is vital for people with spinal-cord injury (SCI) who are at risk for complications many individuals never have to worry about.

One of the biggest obstacles in our diet is table salt, which contains sodium and chloride. Too much sodium is a hazard for people with high blood pressure or heart disease. It also can cause swelling due to water retention.

Just one teaspoon of table salt has 2,325 milligrams (mg) of sodium. Yet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 recommends limiting sodium to less than 2,300 mg daily — 1,500 mg if you’re 51 or older or have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.

Do you know what the leading salty food is? Bread and rolls! A single slice of white bread could contain as much as 230 mg of salt, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Have a couple of sandwiches filled with cheese and processed meat, add some condiments, grab a bag of chips — and voila! Your sodium meter reads “tilt!”

There are also plenty of other places where salt is lurking:

-         Certain processed foods

-          Soft drinks

-          Sauces

-          Cured meats

-          Baking soda

-          Baking powder

-          Many medications

-          Pizza

So, how do you avoid too much sodium in your diet?

-          Learn to enjoy the unsalted flavors of foods

-          Add small amounts of salt when cooking

-          Add little or no salt to food at the table

-          Limit your intake of salty foods

-          Read food labels carefully to determine which foods contain sodium

-          Use herbs, spices and hot sauces to season what you eat

Also watch those food labels. If a label says “light in sodium,” it means 50% less sodium per serving than you find in regular food. One claiming “lightly salted” has 50% less added sodium than normal. And foods that are considered “low sodium” have 140 mg or less per serving.

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