The World Health Organization recommends hidden salt intake to 5 g per day. The goal is to reduce high blood pressure, the development of cardiovascular disease, the formation of stones and other health problems in adults.
Although many people try to control their sodium intake by adding only a tiny pinch of salt to food on their plate, the figure usually reaches more than double the recommended amount of salt per day.
Why is this happening? The problem lies in the high sodium content in ultra-processed foods. According to the CDC, 70% of the sodium you consume per day comes from canned foods, crackers, chips, and other foods with “hidden salt.” Only 5% of dietary sodium stands added to the table.
Also read: Ten Quick Dishes for a Healthy Diet
Our Body Needs Sodium
While eating a lot of salt is wrong, it’s also accurate that our body needs salt to perform its functions. The key to staying healthy is discovery the right measure of salt.
Sodium contained in salt is an electrolyte and an essential component of metabolism. The body must transmit nerve impulses, contract muscles, regulate pH levels and maintain adequate water levels in tissues.
As a reference, 5 g of table salt are equivalent to approximately 2 g of sodium, and this amount is more than enough for the body.
Though is often a significant excess of the nutrient in sodium, and around 70% of the sodium comes after ready-to-eat foods. (2) This is why nutritionists have set the alarm about the hidden salt of food.
Which Salt is Better?
In general, no salt can be considered much more helpful than another: white table salt, sea salt, or Himalayan pink salt are practically the same and contain 97-99% sodium chloride. The content of other nutrients is in hundredths of a percentage.
As an exception to this, a more practical type of table salt is iodine. Remember that iodine is fundamental to the functioning of the body’s hormonal and immune systems. Lack of iodine in the diet is common in some countries and affects deteriorating health and even weight gain (by altering thyroid hormones).
The Salt Stays Hidden in Food
Salt is the oldest and most widespread preservative, so most foods that cannot stand stored contain excess sodium. In addition, the salt stays often used as a flavour enhancer in conjunction with monosodium glutamate. Here are examples of foods with hidden Salt:
1. Bread and biscuits
In baked goods, salt helps baked goods maintain their shape. In many bags baking soda is used for bread to rise. While it is not salt, it contributes sodium to the diet. The daily sodium requirement (5 g of salt) stands in 300 g of bread and baked goods.
100 g tuna or other canned fish contain 1 to 3 g of salt, in salted caviar up to 5-14 g. As for vegetable cans: in 100 g canned corn 400 mg sodium, in peas – 360 mg, green beans – 560 mg. The salt content in the cucumber brine reaches 5 g per 100 g in the tomato sauce is approximately 8 g.
3. Sausages and cold cuts
The salt content in cold cuts, ham and other cold cuts is very high. We often do not see its amount indicated on the label. However, it is an essential source of hidden salt. Only 200 grams of these products can fill the amount of salt you need per day.
Let us also remember that the World Health Organization recommends that ham, sausages and sausages be removed entirely from the diet, limiting total consumption of red meats to 350 g per week. It is because they have remained shown to increase the risk of cancer.
4. Cheese and dairy products
The amount of salt in the cheese varies depending on its type. Values range from 470 to 1400 mg sodium / 100 g. The cheeses with the highest salt content are parmesan, suluguni, sandwich, cheddar, Roquefort and other blue cheeses. High sodium content is typical even for dairy products listed as lights, for example, the request.
5. Butter and bacon
Raw pig products usually contain more salt than many foods. In sum, they have a high content of saturated fats and the possible presence of helminths. In salted products to be preserved, the ratio of lard to table salt is at least 10 to 1, 7-8% in the final product.
6. Ketchup, Sauces and Seasonings
In terms of salt and sugar content, most commercially prepared sauces, seasonings and spices can compete at the top of the hidden salt podium.
In addition to the salt itself, most of them contain additional sodium in monosodium glutamate (flavor enhancer E621). One tablespoon of tomato sauce has more than 150 mg sodium, in aioli sauce – 437 mg, and in soy sauce – 879 mg sodium.
7. Breakfast bowls of cereal
Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals are another group of foods with hidden excess sodium. For example, 100 g of corn flakes contain 660 to 730 mg sodium, and a granola serving contains up to 365 mg. If you choose to look for healthy, salt-free products for breakfast, be sure to read the labels well.
What is the damage of excess salt?
A high-sodium fare is one of the risk factors for high blood pressure. Salt retains fluid in the body, increasing blood volume and exerting additional pressure on the walls of the circulatory system.
Over time, hypertension can damage the heart, kidneys, brain and organs, including vision. Lack of proper treatment can lead to heart and kidney failure, blindness, stroke and heart attack.
High-salt diets have also been linked to obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
How can I reduce my sodium intake?
One way to reduce your salt intake is to limit or eliminate salt-rich foods hidden as fast food, ultra-processed foods, and instant foods. Some ways to reduce your table salt intake:
- Replace salt in cooking with natural spices
- Replacement of canned vegetables with fresh or frozen vegetables.
- Refusal to buy prepared meat products
- Make your sauces
- Replace instant cereals with whole grains.
People with high blood pressure may consider switching to a DASH diet. This flexible and balanced eating plan focuses on foods low in saturated fat and sodium.
On average, people consume 2 to 3 times more salt than the body needs, meaning a wide range of health problems. Studies show that most sodium is consumed not directly by its aggregate but in a hidden way in certain foods. Even a moderate salt restriction can lead to a significant drop in blood pressure at four weeks.
- Reduce sodium intake to lessen blood pressure and the danger of cardiovascular disease in adults.
- Effect of longer-term modest salt reduction on blood pressure
- Carcinogenicity of consumption of red core and processed meat.
- GET THE FACTS: Sources of Sodium in Your Diet.
Also read: Ten Small Changes to Improve your Health