Nutrition - Salt

Salt

Salt is a mineral that we cannot live without.  The right amount promotes healthy fluid metabolism, but too much increases the risk of health problems.  According to Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005, daily sodium intake should be limited to 2,300 milligrams a day (approximately 1 teaspoon).  However, nearly all Americans eat too much salt (sodium), and most of it comes from eating processed foods (75%).

There are three basic types of salt:

Sea salt – made from evaporating salt water collected from an ocean or sea and contains trace minerals not in the mined salts.  This is typically less refined than other salts.  Depending on the seawater used, you also get a variety of minerals in the sea salt.

Table salt – mined using water to create a brine and most of the minerals have been removed.  Then iodine is added making it iodized salt. The brine is then evaporated leaving cubes of salt.

Kosher salt – additive-free coarse-grained salt, made from a brine but this brine is continually raked during the evaporation process. It was developed for the preparation of kosher meats in accordance with Jewish dietary laws. The salt itself is not kosher, but this is where the name comes from.

To help limit your sodium intake, eat a healthy diet with more fresh foods and read the package labels.  Below are common package labels and an explanation of what each one means.

LabelWhat the Label Means
Sodium-free < 5 milligrams of sodium per serving
Very low sodium 35 milligrams or less per serving
Low sodium 140 milligrams or less per serving
Reduced sodium Sodium level is reduced by 25%
Unsalted, no salt added, or without added salt Made without added salt, but will contain any sodium that is naturally found in the food
Healthy By law, foods labeled “healthy” must not exceed 360 milligrams sodium per reference amount (read: serving size). “Meal type” products (e.g., frozen entrees) must not exceed 480 mg sodium per reference amount

Sources:
Book: Healthy Heart Lifestyle Guide and Cookbook, by Cleveland Clinic
www.MayoClinic.com Nutrition and Healthy Eating, “Sodium: How to tame your salt habit now”
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2005


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