Salt of the Earth

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Salt has been given a bad rap and some of it IS warranted, however we do need some salt in our daily diet to be healthy.

First, a background on salt

Salt is an essential mineral needed to purify and preserve.  Go back to our ancestors and you will find that salt was used in everyday life from canning/brining the excess crops for the winter months (preserving) to cleaning infections (purifying).

canning/presesrves
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Iodized salt (most table salts) is salt that is mined and has potassium iodate added.  In the 1920’s, iodine deficiency was a major concern based on the many cases of goiters.  Goiters are a swelling of the thyroid gland and iodine deficiency is a major cause.  Adding potassium iodate to table salt that was used every day when people actually cooked at home regularly was a quick, cost-effective solution to bridge the gap.

Sea salt is actually from sea water that has been dried and has naturally occurring trace minerals including iodine.

Present day

Most people who have been told by their doctor to cut down or eliminate salt, generally only concern themselves with the table salt that they add as they are cooking or sitting down to eat.  This is not the only salt to watch.  Your body needs some salt to function.  Think sweat production and electrolytes.

 

The problem salt that is evident now is the added salt in processed foods.  Unfortunately, these added salts are usually not iodized.   So while our salt intake has gone up, our iodine intake is going down.  While I have not noticed people walking around with goiters, I have noticed a major interest in people lookoing for information on thyroid conditions.  Coincidence?

These foods are manufactured in such large quantities that they need the longest shelf life possible.  So more salt is added.  Voila.  Longer shelf life, more convenience, and Bob’s your uncle.

Bob may be your uncle,  but do you really pay attention to how much salt goes on your plate when you pull that frozen dinner or canned soup out to whip up a quick dinner for your family.  I know I never did, but I can definitely feel the difference now when I have had too much.

pie chart of sodium intake

Excess salt can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, kidney disease and headaches as well as bloating, weight gain and water retention, just to name a few.

Eye Opener

1,500 milligrams or less of sodium is the daily recommended amount.

(I am not pointing a finger at any product or company, but it will be easier for you to check the facts yourself if I use the exact product I am referencing.)

  • Lean Cuisine Potatoes and Broccoli – 1 package – 600mg sodium
  • Weight watchers chicken breast – 140g – 250mg sodium  (a raw chicken breast has 65mg)
  • Atkins Roast Turkey Tenders – 1 dinner – 830mg sodium
  • Kashi Chicken Enchilada/Ancho Sauce – 1 package – 619.1mg

These numbers are sourced from an app called My Fitness Pal.  You do need to create a free account to access the information, but it is totally worth it.

So while these types of “low calorie, healthy meals” may be quick and convenient they are using up almost half of your daily salt intake.  In one meal!

Top food sources of sodium:

  • breads and baked goods
  • processed, frozen, ready to eat entrees and appetizers
  • cheese
  • canned soups
  • sauces and condiments

Other names for sodium:

  1. Disodium guanylate (GMP)
  2. Disodium inosinate (IMP)
  3. Fleur de sel
  4. Himalayan pink salt
  5. Kosher Salt
  6. Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  7. Rock salt
  8. Salt
  9. Sea Salt
  10. Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
  11. Sodium nitrate
  12. Sodium citrate
  13. Sodium chloride
  14. Sodium diacetate
  15. Sodium erythorbate
  16. Sodium glutamate
  17. Sodium lactate
  18. Sodium Lauryl sulfate
  19. Sodium phosphate
  20. Sodium metabisulfite
  21. Trisodium phosphate

What you can do

Read labels carefully – look for 15% and under sodium content and pay attention to the serving size

Limit or omit convenience foods

Swap out salt when cooking for herbs and spices

herbs and spices
Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash

 

To good health and happy lives.

Until next time.

Kate

 

Resources

Government of Canada

American Heart Association

Dieticians of Canada

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