The majority of respondents also mistakenly believe that sea salt is a low-sodium alternative to table salt, the survey found. The poll was conducted to assess awareness about how wine and sodium affect heart health.
The survey results, released Monday, also indicate that most respondents don’t know the primary source of sodium in their diets and are confused about low-sodium food choices. Consuming too much sodium can increase blood pressure and boost the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Forty-six percent of respondents incorrectly said table salt is the primary source of sodium in American diets. In fact, processed foods such as soups, canned foods, prepared mixes, condiments and tomato sauce account for up to 75 percent of sodium consumption in the United States.
Sixty-one percent of respondents believe that sea salt is a low-sodium alternative to table salt. But sea salt and Kosher salt are chemically the same as table salt (40 percent sodium).
People should consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, the AHA says. In order to limit sodium intake, read nutrition and ingredient labels on prepared and packaged foods, experts advise.[source]
I’m always curious about the amounts of salt that the average person is eating every day outside of their processed food intake. That feels like a silly statement, but I’m being honest. In all seriousness, I wonder if people realize just how much salt it takes to meet the 1,500 mg a day amount that the AHA suggests – a little under a teaspoon of table salt – and I wonder if people realize that it’s hard as hell to meet that number if you’re not eating processed foods.
I suppose I’d be naive to ignore the fact that people who are processed food eaters have pushed the “settling point” for their taste buds, so to speak. If all you eat is salty foods because you desire that pinch that salt gives you, the reality of this is that your taste buds eventually become dulled to that “pinch,” and you have to eat more salt in order to get that same “pinch.” The funny thing about this is that it ruins your ability to enjoy flavor – you’re too busy chasing the tang of salt that you miss out on the flavor of what you’re eating, or worse – you think that what you’re eating has no flavor, when in reality the processed food is what lacks flavor and only has salt to cover it up.
The cycle gets worse, though.
When a surplus of salt enters the bloodstream, the body is forced to store the salt between the cells until the kidneys can filter it. Salt then causes a caustic, burning effect on the surrounding tissue. For protection, the cells release water into the intercellular fluid to dilute the excess salt. As the cells give up their water, they lose elasticity and shrink. This, in turn, causes an imbalance of the cell’s chemistry through a loss of potassium.
Low potassium levels cause more sodium to penetrate the cell walls. When the sodium level of the cell rises, water then enters to dilute it, causing the cell to become swollen. The continuous disruption of the cell’s fluid balance can, in time, calcify, scar and destroy the muscles, valves and arteries of the entire coronary route. It may culminate in congestive heart failure. In this way, salt becomes an accomplice to North America’s most voracious killer, cardiovascular disease!
In China, a traditional method of suicide was drinking water saturated with table salt. One ounce of salt causes the body to hold six pounds of excess fluid. Salt in large quantities can be lethal.
When you eat salty foods the body has to compensate to maintain homeostasis. If you eat salty foods for a long period of time, as with caffeine, heroin and nicotine, the body becomes dependent on salt to maintain balance. Therefore reducing salt intake can create physical withdrawal. [source]
There’s also this issue of sea salt. Everyone makes the statement “Ohhh, use sea salt – it’s good for you!” but what does it mean that it’s good for you? What benefits does sea salt have to offer?
Salt is salt. Sodium (Na, 40%) and Chlorine (Cl, 60%).
Sodium is the problem. We are consuming way too much of it. The excess sodium in our diet leads to hypertension, high blood pressure, and ultimately heart disease.
Sea salt comes from the sea, table salt is mined from places that used to be oceans and dried up millions of years ago.
Sea salt does contain traces of additional minerals (0.01% of things like magnesium) but they do not lessen the impact of the sodium consumption.
Even if the minerals in a given sea salt are important nutrients for the body, why take them with all the added salt? Why not from other naturally occurring sources in food? [source]
Sea salt doesn’t offer you anything that isn’t found in other food naturally. The “benefit” that sea salt has over other salts is the fact that it can be less processed, and even then, it’s not guaranteed because it can still be bleached and minerals can still be lost during the bleaching process. So even still, your sea salt would have to have multi-colored granules in it.
And, while I know that a lot of people – myself included- prefer the sea salts with the larger granules simply because it compels us to use less, the fact remains that we’re still using salt. We still have to be careful.
So, how can you get flavor without using [so much] salt?
Use the naturally bitter juices and flavors in fruits and vegetables to your advantage. Lemon, lime and grapefruit come to mind. Squeeze out some flavor, then use the pulp in a marmalade or in preserves. Use vinegar. Red wine, apple cider or plain – all flavorful options. Use your herbs and spices gratuitously – either fresh or dried, whole or ground, they provide nutrients and tons of flavor. Get creative. Go digging! (And keep the salt use to a half a pinch!)