Where most of the salt is hidden in food
Salt is important for the body. However, both too small amounts and too much consumption are harmful to health. Most of the people in Germany tend to consume too much salt rather than too little. A specialist explains in which frequently consumed foods the largest amounts of salt are hidden.
Dr. George Thomas is a specialist in kidney disease and high blood pressure at the renowned Cleveland Clinic in the USA. In a recent article by the clinic, the expert explains what to look for in your diet with regard to salt.
How much salt is recommended?
According to the recommendation of the World Health Organization, adults should not consume more than five grams of table salt per day, children up to six years of age only two to three grams. However, many people, especially men, eat twice as much salt on average as recommended. Several studies have already shown that reducing salt intake has a positive effect on blood pressure and your risk stroke and Heart failure can lower. However, the daily salt intake should not fall below 1.4 grams.
What does the body need salt for?
Table salt provides the body with two important minerals: sodium and chloride. Sodium is essential for regulating the water balance and the transmission of stimuli from muscle and nerve cells. Chloride is needed for the production of digestive juices.
How much sodium is there in table salt?
Table salt consists of 97 percent sodium and chlorine in a ratio of four to six. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a daily intake of 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. With certain diseases, even less sodium should be consumed. One teaspoon of salt (around ten grams) already contains around 2,300 milligrams of sodium.
70 percent of the salt comes from processed foods
As Dr. Thomas reports that most of the ingested salt does not come from the salt shaker, where it is easy to control. More than 70 percent of the salt we ingest is hidden in processed foods. These foods can be high in sodium even if they don’t taste salty at all. For example, they have high sodium levels
- Frozen meals,
- Canned goods,
- pickled foods,
- Snacks such as mini salamis or chips,
- processed meat,
How do you find out the salt content of a food?
“Checking the labels is the only way to know how much sodium is in your food,” says Dr. Thomas. According to the specialist, it pays to use sodium-free or low-sodium foods.
The “Salty Six”
The AHA warns especially of the so-called “Salty Six” (salty six). This refers to the six most commonly consumed foods high in sodium:
- bread and buns: A bun contains around 230 milligrams of sodium.
- Pizza: A frozen pizza can contain up to 760 milligrams of sodium.
- Cold cuts and sausages: Two slices of mortadella already contain over 500 milligrams of sodium.
- Chicken Nuggets: Around 80 grams contain almost 600 milligrams of sodium.
- Instant soups: A cup of canned chicken noodle soup can contain up to 940 milligrams of sodium.
- Sandwich: Bread, sausage, cheese, sauces and spices combined can easily lead to sodium contents of more than 1,500 milligrams.
Diet for high blood pressure
“If you have high blood pressure, the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is a low-sodium nutritional intervention,” recommends Dr. Thomas. With the DASH diet, four to five servings of fruit, four to five servings of vegetables and two to three servings of low-fat dairy products should be consumed daily. This basic structure should be supplemented with whole grain products, fish, poultry, beans, seeds and nuts. Sugar and red meat should be avoided as far as possible.
The best salt alternatives
Because salt is used in so many dishes, we are often trained to eat salt from an early age. According to the expert, it may take some time for the taste buds to get used to a low-salt diet. Dr. Thomas’ tip for getting used to it: “Try to use natural substitutes such as lemon, ginger, curry, dried herbs such as bay leaves, basil and rosemary, onion, garlic and dry mustard to add more flavor to the food.” (Vb)
Also read: Insomnia from high salt consumption.
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.
Diploma-Editor (FH) Volker Blasek
This article is for general guidance only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.