Pass the salt, please. It’s good for you. – The Washington Post

For a salt addict who knows better, I found the article interesting.

Salt intake that is often deemed high may actually have benefits, scientists say.

“We humans eat more salt than is necessary. But we all do it. So the question is: why?” asks Paul Breslin, a professor of nutritional sciences who researches sodium appetite at New Jersey’s Rutgers University.

In the past, people thought that salt boosted health — so much so that the Latin word for “health” — “salus” — was derived from “sal” (salt). In medieval times, salt was prescribed to treat a multitude of conditions, including toothaches, stomachaches and “heaviness of mind.”

While governments have long pushed people to reduce their intakes of sodium chloride (table salt) to prevent high blood pressure, stroke and coronary heart disease, there are good reasons why cutting down on salt is not an easy thing to do.

via Pass the salt, please. It’s good for you. – The Washington Post.

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More than half the packaged food you buy in grocery stores has too much salt – The Washington Post

By Lenny Bernstein April 2

More than 90 percent of us consume too much salt (guilty!), which, as you know, contributes to high blood pressure. For some reason, blood pressure varies noticeably by region of the country, so a team of researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided to determine whether there also are regional variations in the amounts of salt in the packaged foods we buy at the supermarket.

They didn’t find any. But what they did find, according to a report released Thursday, is a bit sobering: More than half of what we buy contains more than the recommended amount of salt for each serving we consume. Meat and pasta mixed dishes (I assume they’re talking about frozen meals and the like; I’m still seeking an explanation) were the top culprits, with better than 80 percent of each containing too much salt in the three regions of the country examined (Pacific, East North Central, and South Atlantic).

[Salt intake is too high in 181 of 187 countries around the world]

Then came pizza (better than 70 percent), soups (more than 60 percent) and cold cuts (50 to 60 percent, depending on the region.).

Of packaged products in the 10 food categories that contribute the most sodium to the American diet, the only ones you can buy without worrying about salt content are cheese, bread and non-sugary snacks. (The full list is in the graph above.)

via More than half the packaged food you buy in grocery stores has too much salt – The Washington Post.

Easy Breezy Refrigerator Pickles – Cooking Light

Easy Breezy Refrigerator Pickles

 

I have to try this! Fun, easy to do thing at home that drastically cuts down the salt. “These homemade pickles couldn’t be easier to make—no fancy kitchen equipment required! Plus, unlike store-bought pickles, these scrumptious homemade pickles are low in sodium.”

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

via Easy Breezy Refrigerator Pickles – Cooking Light.

Salt May Be Bad for More Than Your Blood Pressure: MedlinePlus

FRIDAY, March 13, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Even if you don’t develop high blood pressure from eating too much salt, you may still be damaging your blood vessels, heart, kidneys and brain, a new study warns.

Researchers reviewed available evidence and found that high levels of salt consumption have harmful effects on a number of organs and tissues, even in people who are “salt-resistant,” which means their salt intake does not affect their blood pressure.

High salt consumption levels can lead to reduced function of the endothelium, which is the inner lining of blood vessels. Endothelial cells are involved in a number of processes, including blood clotting and immune function. High salt levels can also increase artery stiffness, the researchers said.

“High dietary sodium can also lead to left ventricular hypertrophy, or enlargement of the muscle tissue that makes up the wall of the heart’s main pumping chamber,” said study co-author David Edwards. He is an associate professor in kinesiology and applied physiology at the University of Delaware.

“As the walls of the chamber grow thicker, they become less compliant and eventually are unable to pump as forcefully as a healthy heart,” he explained in a university news release.

High salt intake can also harm kidney function and may also affect the sympathetic nervous system, which triggers what is commonly known as the fight-or-flight response, according to the study published March 17 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Study co-author William Farquhar is professor and chair of the department of kinesiology and applied physiology at the university. He said, “Chronically elevated dietary sodium may ‘sensitize’ sympathetic neurons in the brain, causing a greater response to a variety of stimuli, including skeletal muscle contraction.

“Again, even if blood pressure isn’t increased, chronically increased sympathetic outflow may have harmful effects on target organs,” he said in the release.

via Salt May Be Bad for More Than Your Blood Pressure: MedlinePlus.

High salt intake linked to premature cellular aging

By Nathan Gray+

25-Mar-2014

Related tags: Premature aging, Salt, Sodium, Aging, Telomere, Hypertension

Related topics: Sugar, salt and fat reduction, Science & Nutrition, Preservatives and acidulants

Overweight or obese teenagers who consume lots of salty foods show signs of faster cellular aging, according to new research.

The study investigated whether high salt intake is linked to cellular aging by assessing its association with leukocyte telomere length, especially in the context of obesity – finding that high dietary sodium intake was associated with shorter telomere length in overweight and obese adolescents “suggesting that high sodium intake and obesity may act synergistically to accelerate cellular aging.”

Led by Dr Haidong Zhu of Georgia Regents University  in the USA, the team noted that some studies have suggested the increased early onset of conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension) and type 2 diabetes may be because the aging process in children and adolescents is accelerated – resulting in the premature development of ‘adult’ diseases.

Previous research has also found that the protective ends on chromosomes (known as telomeres) naturally shorten with age, but the process is accelerated by smoking, lack of physical activity and high body fat.

The new data, presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology & Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity & Metabolism Scientific Sessions 2014, is the first to examine the impact of sodium intake on telomere length.

“Lowering sodium intake, especially if you are overweight or obese, may slow down the cellular aging process that plays an important role in the development of heart disease,” said Zhu.

Study details

As part of the study 766 people aged 14-18 years old were divided into the lowest or highest half of reported sodium intake. Low-intake teens consumed an average 2,388 mg per day, compared with 4,142 mg per day in the high-intake group.

Both groups consumed far more than the 1,500 mg per day maximum recommended by the American Heart Association, said the study.

After adjusting for several factors that influence telomere length, researchers found:

In overweight and obese teens, telomeres were significantly shorter with high-sodium intake, with a T/S ratio of 1.24 vs. 1.32. The T/S ratios is the ratio of the length of the telomere to the length of a single gene.

However, in normal weight teens, telomeres were not significantly different with high-sodium intake (T/S ratio of 1.29 vs. 1.30).

“Even in these relatively healthy young people, we can already see the effect of high sodium intake, suggesting that high sodium intake and obesity may act synergistically to accelerate cellular aging,” said Zhu.

Inflammation link

The team noted that obesity is associated with high levels of inflammation — which also speeds up telomere shortening — and increases sensitivity to salt, which may help explain why higher sodium intake had a greater effect in that group.

via High salt intake linked to premature cellular aging.

Salt or sea salt — is there a difference? – MarshallIndependent.com | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Info. – Marshall Independent

Salt or sea salt — is there a difference?

May 29, 2013

By Cheryl Rude , Marshall Independent

Is there a difference between regular, iodized salt and sea salt? I get asked this question a lot, and I think that most people do think that sea salt is a better option for them than plain, iodized salt.

Salt is comprised of two basic elements – sodium and chloride. It’s about 40 percent sodium, which is the part that can negatively affect your health if you consume too much. And it’s about 60 percent chloride, which is the part that provides the salty taste. We need some sodium to survive – our cells and body functions depend on it. But it takes a very small amount to meet our needs in contrast to the amount we end up eating each day in our food and the salt that we add to our food.

Table salt is finely ground and 1/4 tsp contains about 500 milligrams of sodium. Most table salt is also iodized, which means that it provides iodine in our diet. Iodine deficiency can lead to stunted growth, mental retardation and goiter. Since the 1920s, iodine has been added to salt to provide this nutrient in our diet.

Sea salt, on the other hand, is obtained by the evaporation of sea water. The grain may or may not be bigger than regular table salt, and there may be different minerals included with the sea salt, other than sodium and chloride, which may make the flavor be different than regular salt. Some people like this variation in the flavor and think that they use less salt because the flavor is better. On average, the sodium content of sea salt varies between 400 and 600 milligrams per 1/4 tsp.

There is another type of popular salt – known as kosher salt. This salt generally has a larger grain and usually does not have iodine added to it. Because the grain is larger, less fits into a tablespoon. Sometimes this product might taste saltier because the grain is a little larger. A 1/4 tsp. serving of this product would contain about 500-590 mg. of sodium.

As you can see, there isn’t much difference between the sodium content of any of these products. Our body does need some sodium every day, but probably only 300-500 milligrams. Most foods naturally have some sodium, and many foods, especially processed foods, have a lot of sodium added to them. The average American consumes about 3,000-6,000 mg. of sodium each day. The recommendation for sodium consumption is about 1,500-2,300 mg per day, depending upon your health history. That may still seem like a pretty high number, but if you have actually spent time looking at labels, you know that it doesn’t take long to reach those numbers.

Rather than lowering your salt intake by changing the type of salt you use, a better method would be to try to cut back on the total amount of salt you use and try other flavorings instead to perk up your food. Spices – onion, pepper, lemon, etc., are all good salt alternatives and taste great too! It takes awhile to get used to eating food that is lower in salt, but once you make the switch, you may be surprised at how salty some of the foods you used to enjoy taste.

So, as far as sea salt being a better product to use, it generally isn’t lower in sodium than regular table salt unless you use less of it. But it may contain a different or better flavor that you may prefer, and that is the result of the minerals from the ocean providing the variance in flavor.

Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center. In addition to her column, you can also find nutrition tips and ideas on the blog she writes at http://www.averastorycenter.org.

via Salt or sea salt — is there a difference? – MarshallIndependent.com | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Info. – Marshall Independent.

No Benefit Seen in Sharp Limits on Salt in Diet – NYTimes.com

No Benefit Seen in Sharp Limits on Salt in Diet

No Benefit Seen in Sharp Limits on Salt in Diet - NYTimes.com

By GINA KOLATA

Those levels, 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day, or a little more than half a teaspoon of salt, were supposed to prevent heart attacks and strokes in people at risk, including anyone older than 50, blacks and people with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease — groups that make up more than half of the American population.

Some influential organizations, including the American Heart Association, have said that everyone, not just those at risk, should aim for that very low sodium level. The heart association reaffirmed that position in an interview with its spokesman on Monday, even in light of the new report.

But the new expert committee, commissioned by the Institute of Medicine at the behest of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there was no rationale for anyone to aim for sodium levels below 2,300 milligrams a day. The group examined new evidence that had emerged since the last such report was issued, in 2005.

“As you go below the 2,300 mark, there is an absence of data in terms of benefit and there begin to be suggestions in subgroup populations about potential harms,” said Dr. Brian L. Strom, chairman of the committee and a professor of public health at the University of Pennsylvania. He explained that the possible harms included increased rates of heart attacks and an increased risk of death.

The committee was not asked to specify an optimal amount of sodium and did not make any recommendations about how much people should consume. Dr. Strom said people should not eat too much salt, but he also said that the data on the health effects of sodium were too inconsistent for the committee to say what the upper limit of sodium consumption should be.

Until about 2006, almost all studies on salt and health outcomes relied on the well-known fact that blood pressure can drop slightly when people eat less salt. From that, and from other studies linking blood pressure to risks of heart attacks and strokes, researchers created models showing how many lives could be saved if people ate less salt.

The United States dietary guidelines, based on the 2005 Institute of Medicine report, recommend that the general population aim for sodium levels of 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams a day because those levels will not raise blood pressure. The average sodium consumption in the United States, and around the world, is about 3,400 milligrams a day, according to the Institute of Medicine — an amount that has not changed in decades.

But more recently, researchers began looking at the actual consequences of various levels of salt consumption, as found in rates of heart attacks, strokes and death, not just blood pressure readings. Some of what they found was troubling.

One 2008 study the committee examined, for example, randomly assigned 232 Italian patients with aggressively treated moderate to severe congestive heart failure to consume either 2,760 or 1,840 milligrams of sodium a day, but otherwise to consume the same diet. Those consuming the lower level of sodium had more than three times the number of hospital readmissions — 30 as compared with 9 in the higher-salt group — and more than twice as many deaths — 15 as compared with 6 in the higher-salt group.

Another study, published in 2011, followed 28,800 subjects with high blood pressure ages 55 and older for 4.7 years and analyzed their sodium consumption by urinalysis. The researchers reported that the risks of heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure and death from heart disease increased significantly for those consuming more than 7,000 milligrams of sodium a day and for those consuming fewer than 3,000 milligrams of sodium a day.

There are physiological consequences of consuming little sodium, said Dr. Michael H. Alderman, a dietary sodium expert at Albert Einstein College of Medicine who was not a member of the committee. As sodium levels plunge, triglyceride levels increase, insulin resistance increases, and the activity of the sympathetic nervous system increases. Each of these factors can increase the risk of heart disease.

“Those are all bad things,” Dr. Alderman said. “A health effect can’t be predicted by looking at one physiological consequence. There has to be a net effect.”

Medical and public health experts responded to the new assessment of the evidence with elation or concern, depending on where they stand in the salt debates.

via No Benefit Seen in Sharp Limits on Salt in Diet – NYTimes.com.

Lower Your Salt Intake | Women’s Health News Blog: Latest Health Headlines and Tips to Stay Healthy

You’ve heard the warnings about excessive sodium consumption, but apparently the message isn’t getting through: In the U.S., the average daily sodium intake is 3,600 milligrams, according to new research presented last week at a conference hosted by the American Heart Association. That’s more than double the Association’s recommendation of no more than 1,500 mg a day, says Saman Fahimi, MD, lead author and a visiting scientist in the Harvard School of Public Health’s epidemiology department.

For the study, researchers analyzed 247 surveys to estimate adults’ sodium consumption between 1990 and 2010. The surveys were part of the 2010 Global Burden of Diseases Study, a collaboration between 488 scientists from 303 institutions in 50 countries around the world.

Other research presented at the American Heart Association conference showed that eating too much salt contributed to 2.3 million deaths worldwide in 2010. High sodium intake is associated with increased blood pressure, and it can raise a person’s risk of heart disease and stroke.

Shockingly, laying off the salt shaker won’t solve all your sodium problems, says Susan Bowerman, RD, assistant director of UCLA’s Center for Human Nutrition and a member of Women’s Health’s advisory board. If you’re anything like the typical American, about three-quarters of the sodium you consume comes from eating processed and restaurant foods, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Let’s face it: Eliminating processed foods from your diet altogether probably isn’t realistic. The good thing is you don’t have to. By cutting back on these sodium bombs, you can drastically decrease your intake:

Bread

Breads and rolls are actually the biggest source of sodium in Americans’ diets, according to a 2012 report from the CDC. The next time you need a loaf, drop by a bakery for something freshly made: “A lot of the sodium that’s in bread is from the sodium compounds that are used to keep it fresh on the shelf,” says Bowerman. “So fresh-baked bread is oftentimes going to be significantly lower in sodium.”

Cereals

Salt makes sweet foods taste even sweeter, which is one of the reasons you’ll find it in your cereal box, Bowerman says. The less processed the cereal is, the more likely you are to find a lower sodium content, so go for options like shredded wheat or puffed wheat. For hot cereals, your best bet is a whole grain. Don’t want to quit your favorite cereal cold turkey? Bowerman suggests mixing it with a lower sodium option and slowly adjusting the proportions to include less and less of the salty stuff.

Processed meats

Speaking of cold turkey… Sure, you know to be cautious with processed ham and bacon, but are you checking the sodium content of your sliced turkey and chicken? When you’re perusing the pre-packaged deli meat aisle, Bowerman says it’s really important to compare different brands’ nutritional labels side by side. Don’t rely on the words “lower sodium”; just because it has less sodium than another brand doesn’t mean its amount is actually low, says Bowerman. Ideally, you should aim for around 300 mg per 3-ounce serving. For pre-cooked chicken, like the rotisserie ones, ask your store how they prepare it—if they add salt or brine it, pass. Your best option if you can swing it? Get a fresh turkey or chicken breast and cook it yourself.

Canned soup

If you’re buying soup in a can, you can simply choose low-sodium varieties. Another option that also gives you a nutrient boost: Doctor up the soup you already know and love. “Use the soup as a base, and then add things to increase the volume,” says Bowerman. For example, throw some frozen mixed vegetables, some brown rice, or a can of no-salt-added diced tomatoes into a can of vegetable soup. “That way you’re diluting the sodium,” says Bowerman.

Salty snacks

With something like salted nuts, the name says it all. But if you want to indulge every once in a while—and if calories aren’t a huge concern for you—make some DIY trail mix with dried fruit. “That way, again, you’re going to reduce the sodium per handful,” says Bowerman.

via Lower Your Salt Intake | Women’s Health News Blog: Latest Health Headlines and Tips to Stay Healthy.

Watching your salt? Check the ingredients in your chicken!

20120731-183434.jpgSomething I wasn’t aware of until a couple of years ago was just made very visibly apparent.

Sometimes brands will ‘plump’ up chicken breasts by injecting saline solution. Once I found out about this practice I always have made a point to buy my frozen chicken at Trader Joe’s, but grabbed a bag at Costco when I had run out the other day.

I was marinating some chicken breast when I noticed all of these holes. Kinda creepy, isn’t it?

For more information, here’s a great article from Cooking Light –

The Hidden Sodium in Chicken

One chicken breast could eat up 20% of your sodium limit—before you even start to cook.

Chicken

  • NONENHANCED POULTRY (per 4 ounces raw)
    Sodium:
     45 to 70mg
    Fine print says: “Contains 1 to 5% retained water.” (This is water that may be absorbed during the chilling process; it’s not injected, and no salt is added.)   ENHANCED POULTRY (per 4 ounces raw)
    Sodium: 330 to 440mg
    Fine print says: “Enhanced with up to 15% chicken broth, salt, and carrageenan.”

“As American as boneless, skinless chicken breast” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as “American as apple pie,” but it’s far more appropriate: We eat an average of 87 pounds of chicken per year, up 81% from 48 pounds in 1980. This makes the plumping practice in poultry processing even more troubling.

About one-third of the fresh chicken found in supermarket meat cases has been synthetically saturated with a mix of water, salt, and other additives via needle injections and high-pressure vacuum tumbling. The process is designed to make naturally lean poultry meat juicier and more tender. A 4-ounce serving of what the industry calls “enhanced” poultry can contain as much as 440mg sodium. That’s nearly one-fifth of the current 2,300mg daily sodium allotment—from a source you’d never suspect.

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