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Calorie Count Blog

Salt: Is It Really a Four Letter Word?


By +Elisa Zied on Mar 11, 2010 12:00 PM in Dieting & You

Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN

Salt is the latest food ingredient to make waves—and for good reason. On average, Americans consume about 3,500 milligrams of sodium each day (sodium makes up 40 percent of salt; the other 60 percent comes from chloride); that’s considerably more than the 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams recommended in the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

We do need some sodium—it helps regulate blood pressure, maintain fluid balance, and performs many other vital body functions. But having too much from processed, packaged, and restaurant foods (which make up about ¾ of our total daily sodium intake—the rest comes from the shaker) can raise the risk of high blood pressure that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Over time, too much sodium does more than just bloat us (who isn’t familiar with that puffed up feeling after a heavy restaurant meal?); it makes it tough for kidneys to excrete excess sodium, especially when we’re not adequately hydrated. This can lead to edema (swelling in your face or extremities). A high sodium diet that’s also low in calcium (from dairy or plant sources, fish, or fortified foods) makes it more likely you’ll break a bone or develop osteoporosis down the road.

Of course an occasional high sodium meal or extra sprinkle or two of salt at the dinner table won’t ruin an otherwise healthful diet. But making slight dietary adjustments to taper sodium intake not only protects your heart, but may improve the quality of your diet (especially since many high sodium foods are nutrient poor, and/or pack in calories, fat, sugar, and other things we should limit to manage our weight and improve health).

The good news is that Americans may soon find it easier to slash sodium thanks to the National Salt Reduction Initiative (NSRI). This New York City-led partnership of cities, states, and health organizations, launched in January 2010, encourages food companies and restaurants to voluntarily cut sodium in packaged and restaurant foods by 25 percent over five years.

Although it may be years before we see widespread sodium reductions in our food supply, a few simple steps can help you painlessly curb your sodium intake. First, see where it lurks in your diet.

If you eat out or rely on take-out food often:

  • Try to find out how much sodium is in your favorite foods (menus or company/restaurant web sites may provide this information).
  • Ask for foods prepared without added salt.
  • Choose unbreaded, unfried options.
  • Request sauces, dressings, and condiments on the side and use your fork for dipping instead of pouring them on your food.

When grocery shopping:

  • Read Nutrition Facts Panels on food packages.
  • Choose lower sodium or no salt added versions of snack foods like pretzels and chips, condiments such as mustard, salsa, soy sauce, and salad dressings, canned foods such as vegetables, soups and beans, dairy foods, processed meats like salami and hot dogs, and breads, cereals, and baked dessert-type foods.
  • When you buy frozen foods, choose unbreaded, unfried options made without heavy or cheesy sauces.
  • Buy plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), and grains; these high water, high fiber, potassium-rich foods (all naturally low in sodium) fill you up and at the same time, blunt the effects of a high sodium diet.

At home:

  • Rinse canned foods like beans and fish to remove some of the sodium they contain.
  • Replace table salt with herbs and spices that don’t contain salt.
  • If you want to add salt, add it sparingly to cooked food.
  • Consider using Kosher or sea salt instead of table salt since they have less sodium per tablespoon.

Your thoughts....

Are you concerned about sodium?


Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN, is a nationally recognized registered dietitian and author of Nutrition At Your Fingertips, Feed Your Family Right!, and So What Can I Eat?!. She is also a national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.  For more information, go to www.elisazied.com, and www.nutritionatyourfingertips.com. Follow Elisa on Twitter and Elisa on Facebook.



Comments


Salt is my nemisis!  I make most of our food from scratch and even doing that I'm finding it challenging to reduce my sodium.  Even 1st principle cooking ingredients can be loaded with stuff.  Yell

Thanks for posting this!  I will be trying the suggestions



Sodium is one of the hardest things for me to regulate in my diet... It just seems to be so high in all the fat-free or low calorie foods I purchase.

One thing I have never been able to find out is what effect sodium has on losing fat... not weight, but fat. I have read on how it makes you retain water, and that will effect the scale, but what about storing calories ? None of the researching I have done really goes beyond water retention and bloating.



Great ideas! Thank you.

I've been working on this for over a year now. It's very hard to moderate sodium, but it's doable. I love turkey or chicken sausages, and one large one usually contains 600-900 mg of sodium. I'm trying to only eat half when I feel like one, which is everyday for a week sometimes.

http://www.drpasswater.com/nutrition_library/Potassium%20_to %20_Sodium_Ratio.html

And for anyone who's interested in the science of the sodium potassium pump, this article is worth the read too. I found it fascinating. It helped motivate me to eat more fruit and vegetables.



cgnov23:


I don't know if there's a direct relationship with sodium and fat, but when you cut down sodium, you cut out a lot of high fatty processed foods as well, so naturally your fat intake will probably go down as you take the sodium down.

Moderating your calories overall and exercising will help you lose fat, as well as shaving off some carbs and cutting out excess sugar intake, especially fructose that is not combined with a fibre.



Wow!  I wondered how long it would take North America to catch up.  Britain has been fighting the salt content in food for about 5 years and I was horrified when I moved to Canada to discover how much salt was used here.  In particular the UK is targeting salt in 'childrens foods'.  I'd like to see these targeted here too.  When I take my son to McDonalds occassionally we always ask for no salt on the fries and they are always happy to oblige.  He notices now if they get it wrong!



I know I'm the unpopular voice here, but...I keep repeatedly reading studies that say:

1) As long as you don't already have a condition like high blood pressure

and

2) you get enough water to flush it through your system

and

3) you don't have other nutritional deficiencies.

There is no functional limit to the amount of salt your body can process.  (I.e. if you're reasonably healthy and eat well otherwise, you'll be fine.)

Effects such as bloating and increased blood pressure are real...I won't argue that, but they are generally temporary if related strictly to salt.

Salt does cause your system to flush out more (is that such a bad thing), taxing unhealthy kidneys, but healthy ones should be fine with this.  THAT is why people claim it leads to deficiencies though...because it is flushing out other things (some of which are impurities and bad for you) and can expose minor existing deficiencies.

However, salt is delicious!  And, if done right, it provides other essential nutrients.  Regular table salt is fortified with Iodine...something that has effectively eliminated goiter in this country.  But it is so processed it is otherwise devoid of most natural minerals that natural salts contain.

Anyone else a fan of so-called "finishing salts"?  I would hazard a guess that if used correctly (i.e. sprinkled on food just as its served so that the taste and crunch of it is more evident) it could even be used to lower your salt intake if you need to/continue to insist that it is bad for you, since the salty flavor is more evident when used this way (rather than added during the cooking process). 

Or for people like me, it just adds to the enjoyment :)  I cook with them often and sometimes even carry them in my purse for ready use.  Plus, a lot of them contain lots of other good trace minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, etc) that are good for you.

A great place for finding these is Salts of the 7 Seas or Saltworks.

Another benefit of salt is that it can bring out other flavors in food, reducing your need to, say, pile on the sugar?  Try just a pinch of salt in coffee.  Any sugar you add after that will be much more noticeable, I bet.  This is especially good on gas station or the burnt sludge they serve in the average coffeepot since salt also reduces coffee's bitterness. Got a kid who puts too much sugar on their cereal?  Mix in a small amount of salt (maybe 1/4 teaspoon or so to the cup) to the shaker...should help.

Salt can whet the appetite and make you thirsty, but it can also make food more satisfying (seriously...if I'm already cutting my calories so that I don't get to eat as much as I like, can't I at least enjoy it?  Already I've eliminated dessert and piled on the vegetables, but bland food...and yes, I use other spices to a high degree as well...is something I refuse to reduce myself to)

Anyway, my point is, I know there are lots of people saying salt is bad for you, but there are also a lot of things saying salt is good for you (necessary at least in small amounts - so NEVER cut it out entirely) and that even excessive salt consumption is not bad as long as you aren't eating it by the spoonful or have other issues aggravated by it.  Do some reading.  It always annoys me when people tell you "this is bad, don't do this" and then fail to fully explain WHY it's bad or the specific circumstances around the claim.

This article bugs me...not just because it declaims salt.  But mostly because the title of it makes it sound like it just might offer a balanced review.  But alas...not really.  Following it's advice probably won't hurt you...and it might help if you don't meet the three conditions I mentioned above, but seriously...I really don't think this is one of the nation's biggest health concerns, or mine.



I agree with zag-geek. One of my best snack foods is jerky (the low sugar varities). Yes it has salt but it is a low or no fat, low calorie, high protien snack that has worked very well for me (55 lbs dropped, 10 lbs to go).

David



I did forget to mention...some people are genetically pre-disposed (apparently) to react more to high levels of salt (i.e. high blood pressure and the like).

The majority of us, however, are not.

I can vouch that losing weight and exercising has done MUCH more for my health (and yes, my blood pressure too).  Meanwhile, I'd hazard that my salt consumption has increased (between my love of adding it to food I cook myself and an increased consumption of TV dinners).

Again, there are so many health issues to worry about before this one. (Personal opinion)



I recently posted how I have been using the product NO Salt and really love it.

It contains no sodium and 650 mg of potassium for 1/4 tsp. Ingredient list: potassium chloride, potassium bitartrate, adipic acid, silicon dioxide, mineral oil, and fumaric acid.

This satisfies my salt craving.



I love salt.. more than sugar even (and that's saying a lot). I have been working on adding less salt to prepared food- with limited success. I will try the tips about using herbs and kosher salt.



To Linda re: NO Salt

Interesting.  I always wondered what no salt was (but was too lazy to find out).

Interesting point of fact:  potassium chloride is salt. ("Salt" is a category of compounds, not just NaCl)  KCl is just a different type of salt.  Not entirely sure what the health effects are between the two.

Although, food for thought...the final (and fatal) drug given during executions by lethal injection is potassium chloride. Though in very high doses.

I'd have to do more research to know how I felt about eating it, but I would suspect I'd feel about the same as I do about eating regular salt (sodium chloride), particularly as a lot of specialty salts contain minerals and mixes like this.  Salts of different compositions taste different, but beyond that I am not sure.

It appears that what eating potassium chloride (instead of sodium chloride) is doing is actually not decreasing your salt, but increasing your potassium.  A lack of potassium is one of the deficiencies large salt consumption can aggravate, so KCl substitutes are more about balance than replacement.



Original Post by: howard1

One NY legislator wants to ban salt from restaurants.

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/03/11/2010-03-11_as sault_on_salt_an_insult_chefs.html


Banning any kind of salt in restaurant food prep is just wayyyy overreaching on the part of the government. We are not babies who need a nanny gov't telling us how to live. Whatever happened to personal responsibility?  I do research on what I eat. If I want less salt, I can control that. If I go out to eat, I can ask that no salt be added.



Original Post by: zag-geek

I know I'm the unpopular voice here, but...I keep repeatedly reading studies that say:

1) As long as you don't already have a condition like high blood pressure

and

2) you get enough water to flush it through your system

and

3) you don't have other nutritional deficiencies.

There is no functional limit to the amount of salt your body can process.  (I.e. if you're reasonably healthy and eat well otherwise, you'll be fine.)

Effects such as bloating and increased blood pressure are real...I won't argue that, but they are generally temporary if related strictly to salt.

Salt does cause your system to flush out more (is that such a bad thing), taxing unhealthy kidneys, but healthy ones should be fine with this.  THAT is why people claim it leads to deficiencies though...because it is flushing out other things (some of which are impurities and bad for you) and can expose minor existing deficiencies.

However, salt is delicious!  And, if done right, it provides other essential nutrients.  Regular table salt is fortified with Iodine...something that has effectively eliminated goiter in this country.  But it is so processed it is otherwise devoid of most natural minerals that natural salts contain.

Anyone else a fan of so-called "finishing salts"?  I would hazard a guess that if used correctly (i.e. sprinkled on food just as its served so that the taste and crunch of it is more evident) it could even be used to lower your salt intake if you need to/continue to insist that it is bad for you, since the salty flavor is more evident when used this way (rather than added during the cooking process). 

Or for people like me, it just adds to the enjoyment :)  I cook with them often and sometimes even carry them in my purse for ready use.  Plus, a lot of them contain lots of other good trace minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, etc) that are good for you.

A great place for finding these is Salts of the 7 Seas or Saltworks.

Another benefit of salt is that it can bring out other flavors in food, reducing your need to, say, pile on the sugar?  Try just a pinch of salt in coffee.  Any sugar you add after that will be much more noticeable, I bet.  This is especially good on gas station or the burnt sludge they serve in the average coffeepot since salt also reduces coffee's bitterness. Got a kid who puts too much sugar on their cereal?  Mix in a small amount of salt (maybe 1/4 teaspoon or so to the cup) to the shaker...should help.

Salt can whet the appetite and make you thirsty, but it can also make food more satisfying (seriously...if I'm already cutting my calories so that I don't get to eat as much as I like, can't I at least enjoy it?  Already I've eliminated dessert and piled on the vegetables, but bland food...and yes, I use other spices to a high degree as well...is something I refuse to reduce myself to)

Anyway, my point is, I know there are lots of people saying salt is bad for you, but there are also a lot of things saying salt is good for you (necessary at least in small amounts - so NEVER cut it out entirely) and that even excessive salt consumption is not bad as long as you aren't eating it by the spoonful or have other issues aggravated by it.  Do some reading.  It always annoys me when people tell you "this is bad, don't do this" and then fail to fully explain WHY it's bad or the specific circumstances around the claim.

This article bugs me...not just because it declaims salt.  But mostly because the title of it makes it sound like it just might offer a balanced review.  But alas...not really.  Following it's advice probably won't hurt you...and it might help if you don't meet the three conditions I mentioned above, but seriously...I really don't think this is one of the nation's biggest health concerns, or mine.


I agree, thanks for the balanced view.



I lost 16 lbs. when I lowered my salt intake . My legs swell up if I cheat. So I only cheat once in awhile. Iam told age has something to do with it as well.

Thanks

Chris Parrilli



I've always wondered - Whats the big deal about salt?? I absolutely LOVE SALT! Especially while I am trying too eat healthy, if I'm not going to add butter to my veggies then there better be some salt at least!I've never felt a boated feeling after eating too much salt, but I try to balance it out with drinking lots of water.

High blood pressure does run in my family though, but so does being over weight....so maybe that contributes more than our love of salt.

I work in a restaurant and I think its funny when people order their fries without salt, its like...maybe you should cut out the deep fried potatoes instead. Thanks to Zag-geek for putting things into perspective.



I'm getting the opposite message from the new analysis tool on CC; it tells me my sodium intake is too low! I make all out meals from scratch and gave up adding salt to the food when my children were babies and were eating the same meals as us just liquidised. This is more than 25 years ago. I live in Spain and here they call salt Muerta Blanca, White Death. Go figure.



Original Post by: adeywadey

I've always wondered - Whats the big deal about salt?? I absolutely LOVE SALT! Especially while I am trying too eat healthy, if I'm not going to add butter to my veggies then there better be some salt at least!I've never felt a boated feeling after eating too much salt, but I try to balance it out with drinking lots of water.

High blood pressure does run in my family though, but so does being over weight....so maybe that contributes more than our love of salt.

I work in a restaurant and I think its funny when people order their fries without salt, its like...maybe you should cut out the deep fried potatoes instead. Thanks to Zag-geek for putting things into perspective.


cutting out the fries instead of the salt would be more beneficial in the long run - I agree :)



I am trying to watch my sodium as a preemptive strike against any future problems.  I already have a congenital liver disease so my body's health is a high priority.  However I am a German-American and there is no way I will give up my sauerkraut and heavily vinegared foods.  My daily sodium count is usually between 80-150% the recommended intake.  I do not add salt to anything I eat if I can help it.  Everything comes with enough already.



About a year ago, I made a challenge not only to lose weight but change my eating habits, and one of them was cut SALT out of my life. It's been a year now, I cook my meals whiout salt, i use other herbs and spices and the flavor is just better :D



Good Lord- thanks for the info on the No Salt

I guess I have been using it for around 2 years now- funny that the label says Sodium-Free salt! and lists zero mg of sodium and 650 mg of potassium.  It is made by French's. Maybe it has a placebo effect on me, but I swear I do not swell up or retain water using this and the minute I eat something salty or with a lot of regular salt- I can taste and feel the difference.

thanks again



Original Post by: lms619linda

Good Lord- thanks for the info on the No Salt

I guess I have been using it for around 2 years now- funny that the label says Sodium-Free salt! and lists zero mg of sodium and 650 mg of potassium.  It is made by French's. Maybe it has a placebo effect on me, but I swear I do not swell up or retain water using this and the minute I eat something salty or with a lot of regular salt- I can taste and feel the difference.

thanks again


There is a difference, I think, between using the word "salt" and sodium.  KCl does not have sodium in it, whether it is considered a salt or not. 

I also think the true danger from sodium comes, not from the salt shaker, but from all the hidden sodium added to processed foods.  The original article points out that on average 25% of our sodium intake is from the salt added at the table, which means that the other 75% is in the snacks, frozen foods, fast food, etc that we eat.  I have checked out the sodium contents of favorite fast foods, and it's scary how much they contain.  Seems like that is the best place to start; most of those are pretty much nutrient-empty anyway. 

If you are salting your home cooked fresh vegetables, carbs and lean meats at the table, I don't think that is guilty of causing much harm. 



Thanks for your info,too!

The thing we are all trying to do is make things taste better, whether it be sugar substitute or salt substitute, especially when we are counting calories. Just being so aware of how much and what you eat and how to eat better is really important. Salt and sugar are in so many foods that we buy. At least now there is nutritional information on practically everything so it is so much better.  Good luck to everyone!



Original Post by: reginabc

Original Post by: lms619linda

Good Lord- thanks for the info on the No Salt

I guess I have been using it for around 2 years now- funny that the label says Sodium-Free salt! and lists zero mg of sodium and 650 mg of potassium.  It is made by French's. Maybe it has a placebo effect on me, but I swear I do not swell up or retain water using this and the minute I eat something salty or with a lot of regular salt- I can taste and feel the difference.

thanks again


There is a difference, I think, between using the word "salt" and sodium.  KCl does not have sodium in it, whether it is considered a salt or not. 

I also think the true danger from sodium comes, not from the salt shaker, but from all the hidden sodium added to processed foods.  The original article points out that on average 25% of our sodium intake is from the salt added at the table, which means that the other 75% is in the snacks, frozen foods, fast food, etc that we eat.  I have checked out the sodium contents of favorite fast foods, and it's scary how much they contain.  Seems like that is the best place to start; most of those are pretty much nutrient-empty anyway. 

If you are salting your home cooked fresh vegetables, carbs and lean meats at the table, I don't think that is guilty of causing much harm. 


Agree...if sodium is an issue KCl does not have sodium.  But it is a salt and has the chloride.  Didn't mean to say it was bad...just musing on NO Salt and its sort of misleading name (assuming that salt = table salt.)

As the article (I linked to) points out, KCl can also be harmful...if you're out of balance.  Moral of the story...watch out for those deficiencies.  Perhaps that is the real issue: excesses increase imbalances which expose existing deficiencies.

I don't advocate this website, but here is a list of salts in the body and what they do in your body.

Simply put, there are lots of salts.  Not all of them are consumable, however, but all of the ones that are have a potential role in the body.  They won't have the same effect, but I don't know enough to speculate on the true effect of displacing one with another. (Though I still stand by my argument above that NaCl gets a bad rep undeservedly.)

Here's a definition (from wikipedia...yeah I know, but it's FAIRLY reliable): salts are ionic compounds which can result from the neutralization reaction of acids. Salts are ionic compounds composed of cations (positively charged ions) and anions (negative ions) so that the product is electrically neutral (without a net charge). These component ions can be inorganic such as chloride (Cl−), as well as organic such as acetate (CH3COO−) and monoatomic ions such as fluoride (F−), as well as polyatomic ions such as sulfate (SO42−). 

 



thanks for the info; you clearly have done your homework on the issue!  The only reason I weighed in was because it was starting to look as though some didn't understand the difference between the two.



In the 6 months that I have been tracking my calorie intake, I monitored my sodium intake (as well as the other nutrition facts that Calorie Count provides) and averaged around 1000 mg /day of salt.

In changing to a much healthier lifestyle, we found actually prefer not to use salt, rather using a variety of other spices and herbs. Fish & chips are made with with homemade cajun seasoning (minus the salt) and are so much yummier. I do add salt to baking just to ensure the chemical reactions work, but that is only thing I add it to while cooking. AND we rarely add salt at the table.

I find most restaurant meals taste too salty. I was once told by someone in the restaurant industry that salt is the cheap way to add flavour without actually adding any. Definitely prefer real spice over salt!



A minority need to watch their sodium intake.  For the rest of us, it's not an issue.

 



Appreciate all your thoughtful comments on my blog post. The new dietary guidelines for Americans are due out before the end of 2011 and my guess is that recommended daily intakes of sodium may decrease, even below the 2,300 mg a day cap. Regardless of whether the government guidelines ask us to further reduce our intake of sodium, it is my hope that restaurants and food manufacturers will make strides to lower the sodium content of foods and beverages so that we as a nation have more healthful options.

Although not everyone is not equally sensitive to a high sodium diet (some people are more affected by sodium in excess than others), lowering our sodium intake by reading food labels, finding out how much sodium our restaurant foods contain, and buying fewer processed/packaged foods and instead loading up on more healthful foods that are naturally lower in sodium (fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, and other foods made with little sodium) will only help us consume a more healthful, nutritious diet....that in turn can help us cut our calorie intake (we'll get more full eating more fiber-rich whole foods)--that can help us lose weight, lower blood pressure, and reduce our risk for deveoping heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other weight and diet-related conditions.



I really enjoyed this post, but I wanted to make a small clarification.  Sodium comprises 50% of normal table salt, not 40%.  The sodium is in a one-to-one ratio with the chloride (NaCl).  Sea salts have minor or trace amounts of other elements (which gives them their color and flavor) but even those impurities amount to only about 2 weight percent of the total mineral.

Thanks,

Millicent



sodium=cellulite. not hot.



Great post Elisa! I just read about the salt ban proposed for NY and I believe a total ban is a bit over the top. I do however know that chefs can be quite heavy handed with the salt shaker.

As a registered dietitian I worked on a recipe analysis project with a major retailer who wanted to add some healthier items to their restaurant menu. Even with the healthier items we had to make considerable modifications to the recipes to get sodium levels acceptable. The chef's comment to me was that chefs really don't know how much salt - and calories - are in the foods they prepare. It was quite refreshing to work with a corporate chef that was open to change and also realized that taste was not compromised by the reductions in salt that we made.

Keep up the terrific work Elisa!



Chefs are all about making things taste good.  The best way to eat if you are calorie counting is in your own home- where you control what you eat and how it is made.  In addition to salt, the amounts of butter and other fats is probably mind boggling!!!

We, as a society, have been sugared and fatted to death and finally we are realizing it and doing something about it- at least those of us on this website!!



In response to Millicent:

I really enjoyed this post, but I wanted to make a small clarification.  Sodium comprises 50% of normal table salt, not 40%.  The sodium is in a one-to-one ratio with the chloride (NaCl). 

Elisa is correct - table salt is 40% sodium and 60% chloride.

Jennifer Neily



I know of only one salt substitute . Are there others?



In response to Jennifer Neily:

 

Actually, no, table salt is NaCl.  If table salt were 40% Na and 60% Cl, the chemical formula would not be NaCl.  For a 40/60 mixture, the chemical formula would be Na2Cl3, but that is not chemically favorable because there would be a charge imbalance of -1.  The halite (table salt) crystal structure is charge neutral.

Sea salt composition can vary more, but table salt is a 50/50 mixture of sodium to chloride



Mmm but salt is "the flavor enhancer"... it says so right on the package!!

 



Original Post by: mpschmidt

In response to Jennifer Neily:

 

Actually, no, table salt is NaCl.  If table salt were 40% Na and 60% Cl, the chemical formula would not be NaCl.  For a 40/60 mixture, the chemical formula would be Na2Cl3, but that is not chemically favorable because there would be a charge imbalance of -1.  The halite (table salt) crystal structure is charge neutral.

Sea salt composition can vary more, but table salt is a 50/50 mixture of sodium to chloride


You're both right.  If you are counting number of atoms, then it's 50/50.

If you are looking at atomic weight, however, Sodium has an atomic weight of about 23 u - (arbitrary unit multiplied by weight of a standard hydrogen atom).  Chlorine has an atomic weight of about 35.4 u

23/(23+35.5) = almost 40% exactly by weight.

So both answers are correct depending on how you want to look at it.



My body has always reacted negatively to high levels of sodium. After being diagnosed with congestive heart failure almost 4 yrs ago, I was told (with my medical condition) that it was imperative that I pursue a low sodium diet. With the help of a few low sodium cookbooks and a couple of great low sodium product websites (and of course, a great cardiologist), I've made a good recovery. No compliant, I've tried to play the cards I was dealt. BUT,  it can't hurt to produce products and get resturant meals without added sodium and, IF desired, the salt shaker can then be used according to each person's preference. Then everyone wins.



Original Post by: etta-52

My body has always reacted negatively to high levels of sodium. After being diagnosed with congestive heart failure almost 4 yrs ago, I was told (with my medical condition) that it was imperative that I pursue a low sodium diet. With the help of a few low sodium cookbooks and a couple of great low sodium product websites (and of course, a great cardiologist), I've made a good recovery. No compliant, I've tried to play the cards I was dealt. BUT,  it can't hurt to produce products and get resturant meals without added sodium and, IF desired, the salt shaker can then be used according to each person's preference. Then everyone wins.


I am sorry about your CHF condition - I feel for you! Years ago I used to work in the specialty CHF clinic at a hospital and the cardiologist would tell his pts that I (as the registered dietitian) was one of the the most important persons they would see because I could keep them out of the hospital - by teaching them how to follow a low sodium diet. Their heart failure was so bad that just one high sodium meal could be a problem. Knowing that fast food and restaurant meals can vary from 1000mg to sometimes over 5000mg, it's quite absurd. And as you know you need to keep sodium PER DAY to 1500-2000mg. Dietary rec for healthy Americans are actually to limit to 2300mg sodium. Guidelines may be changing to reduce that further.

Congratulations on managing your heart failure on good luck on continued success!

Jennifer Neily, MS, RD, CSSD, LD



Original Post by: zag-geek

Original Post by: mpschmidt

In response to Jennifer Neily:

 

Actually, no, table salt is NaCl.  If table salt were 40% Na and 60% Cl, the chemical formula would not be NaCl.  For a 40/60 mixture, the chemical formula would be Na2Cl3, but that is not chemically favorable because there would be a charge imbalance of -1.  The halite (table salt) crystal structure is charge neutral.

Sea salt composition can vary more, but table salt is a 50/50 mixture of sodium to chloride


You're both right.  If you are counting number of atoms, then it's 50/50.

If you are looking at atomic weight, however, Sodium has an atomic weight of about 23 u - (arbitrary unit multiplied by weight of a standard hydrogen atom).  Chlorine has an atomic weight of about 35.4 u

23/(23+35.5) = almost 40% exactly by weight.

So both answers are correct depending on how you want to look at it.


Thank you for that - I appreciate the clarification!



Comment Removed

For me, salt is worse than most 4 letter words. I try to keep it in control but all it takes is eating out, fast food, or preprepared food from the grocery. And if you buy lower fat or sugar the salt amount seems to increase.

Unbelievably to me, even the bottled water is salted. 



Original Post by: prinzessin_naseimbuch

I am trying to watch my sodium as a preemptive strike against any future problems.  I already have a congenital liver disease so my body's health is a high priority.  However I am a German-American and there is no way I will give up my sauerkraut and heavily vinegared foods.  My daily sodium count is usually between 80-150% the recommended intake.  I do not add salt to anything I eat if I can help it.  Everything comes with enough already.


I agree prinzessin. I also agree with responses about the fries - its better to give up the fries than the salt. On that note I must say there are times I crave some food and make the decision that I will have 1 part of the 'badness' removed. For me, mainly because of heart failure, the badnesses I remove are in this order:

Sugar (with replacement when needed)

Salt

Fat

and last but not least ice cream (mmmmmmmm).

So rather than thinking 100% no on a food, how about thinking 50% no is better than no know at all.



My mother passed away nearly two years ago.  When I flew home to be with my 80 yr old dad, I found him in a deplorable state of health after obsessing about taking care of my unwell mother.  He was overweight, had severely swollen calves (he had to wear compression socks- but they didn't work too well) and was nearly dead from heart failure (I got him to the urgent care on time for stent implants).  Long story short, his new cardiologist said "No more salt!" and I went home with him, cleaned out his cupboards of sauces, dressings, cereals, soups and other packages and cans that shocked me to my socks with all of the salt they contained (even the ones marketed as "Low Sodium" have TONS of sodium in them- sometimes 600mg!! Beware of false advertising unless you read the fine print.  

He was very angry with me and missed his familiar soups, snacks and meals.  I stayed with him and cooked for him for 18 months.  In sympathy and unable to be a hypocrite, I, too, had to follow the "NO SALT" regime at home and in restaurants, with him.  The results?

The FIRST WEEK of "No salt" I LOST 5 LBS still eating the same amount of food!

Within six weeks, my father lost more than 15 pounds and his calves went back to skinny SKINNY NORMAL!!! No more need of a nurse to wash his legs and change those nasty compression socks.  It was like a flipping Catholic miracle...and all it was...

was giving up salt.  

Figure it out for yourselves.  I did and it changed my life.  I've not put the weight back on and have actually lost another 5 lbs since then, myself.  I did have to buy a lot of new clothes...it's been 18 months, give or take, and I eat like a horse, exercise moderately, and fight chefs, both in France and the USA to use less salt.  I did find ONE RESTAURANT in Paris, called Pain et Chocolat where the chef, a lady, has NO SALT AT ALL in her kitchen!!  She agrees that it is bad for the health, deadly etc.  Her food is DELICIOUS and she even bakes wonderful croissants, cakes and other goodies (one eats those in moderation, of course).  I wish I could dine there, everyday, but reality is another matter....

Good luck to you all.

Laura

 

 

 



I did not say that the fries my son orders are healthy, but they would be far more unhealthy when loaded with salt.

This is all about proportion.  Cutting out salt completely is also unhealthy but most processed foods contain far more than is necessary.  And it is possible to overdose on the stuff (a child in Britain died a few years ago and this was given as the cause of death), even if you drink plenty of water.  And children have much smaller bodies (obviously) so are more susceptible to increases in salt.  Some of the snacks that are marketed to children contain an adults daily serving of salt!

The reality is to be sensible.  Yes salt alters the taste of food, but is it worth ill health for?  It's amazing how quickly you get used to tasting the flavour of the food when it isn't covered in salt.  A little goes a really long way when cooking.  There is no need for there to be a salt lovers v salt haters camp, simply an understanding that there is too much in processed food and too much is dangerous to our health and our childrens.



I really want to try dehydrating celery!!!  I heard that this is a really great salt substitute. 



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