26 September 2012

Questions about salt answered.

I never really thought much about salt.  I knew too much was bad (for your heart and fluid retention), but how much was good?  What foods supply it?  How much can you add at the table?  What does a craving mean?  Here’s what I found:

The daily recommended allowance for sodium is 2300 mg (only 1500 mg if you are over the age of 50 or have other health concerns).  This amount can naturally be found in whole foods that you eat in a single day, excessively in processed foods including lunchmeat and frozen meals.

How quickly you can get 1914 mg* in one day?  
Breakfast (255 mg): glass of grapefruit juice, 10 mg + 1 cup of multi-grain cheerios, 120 mg + 1 cup of skim milk, 125 mg. 
Snack (244 mg): granola bar, 65 mg + Babybel cheese, 179 mg
Lunch (585 mg): 1 slice of wheat bread, 160 mg (320 mg in a sandwich) + 2 Tbsp peanut butter, 140 mg + jelly, 10 mg + 13 potato chips, 115 mg (apple = 0)
Snack (350 mg): 2 Tbsp humus, 130 mg + 9 pita chip/crackers, 220 mg
Dinner (480 mg): (whole grain spaghetti = 0) + ½ cup spaghetti sauce from a jar, 480 mg (vegetable = 0)

*This assumes you eat the printed manufacturer serving size. 
If you do add salt for flavor, keep in mind 1 tsp = your total daily allowance (2300 mg).

What’s good about salt?  Sodium is one of three primary electrolytes (potassium and chloride being the other two) that move nutrients to cells, and waste from them.  But too much of a good thing can tip things out of balance to the point of being unhealthy.  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/sodium/NU00284             

What causes cravings?  Many times it’s simply the result of habit.  If you consume lots of sodium (hidden in foods or added with a shake) your taste buds will become accustomed to the flavor.  Other times, you may need to replace levels you’ve sweat out due to hot weather or exercise.  But sometimes, a craving can be a sign of a hormonal insufficiency or adrenal fatigue which should be discussed with your doctor.  http://www.livestrong.com/article/459071-adrenal-glands-fatigue-salt-cravings/    

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