With the announcement of new dietary guidelines, not a whole lot seems to have changed but there is definitely an emphasis on cutting down on the quantity of food we eat as well as the amount of sodium we consume. While I am pretty sure most of us are aware of the dangers of too much salt, I believe, due to the amount of foods we eat that are NOT prepared by us, we still ingest WAY too much sodium. Whether its from pre-cooked foods, frozen foods, fast foods or eating out in ANY restaurant, it appears that this issue is NOT so much about the shaker itself, as it is estimated that 90% of a person’s sodium intake comes from restaurants or packaged foods! Yikes.
In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, we easily see that a salty snack can harm our arteries in just 30 minutes. When 2 groups of volunteers were fed soup, one group low-salt and another group 10 times the amount, consistently, the group who ate the high-salt version showed that their arteries widened only half the amount of the low-salt group. This was displayed by using an ultra sound machine while taking the volunteers’ blood pressure. These negative effects on blood vessels lasted about 2 hours. Over time, these blockages lead to strokes and heart attacks, in the same way meals high in saturated fats do.
Put simply, salt works on our kidneys, making them hold more water. This extra water raises blood pressure and puts strain on the kidneys, arteries, heart and brain. Eating salt raises the amount of sodium in our bloodstreams resulting in the pressure that strains our blood vessels that lead to the kidneys. If you are already on medication to lower your blood pressure, reducing your salt intake will help your medicine work more effectively.
It is estimated that Americans consume an average of 3,400 mg of sodium daily. This number is way above the 2,300 recommended daily UPPER limit. The new guidelines recommend that half the US population in a risk group (already diagnosed with high BP, anyone over 51 years old, all Afro-Americans and anyone with diabetes or kidney disease.)
More about the rest of the new dietary guidelines later in the week. For now, less food, more fruits and veggies, more water and please, don’t pass the salt…apparently we already get MORE than enough of it!