Beware of Hidden Salt

You may never lift a salt shaker and avoid of french fries and potato chips, but you are likely taking in much more salt than you realize, according to an investigation from Consumer Reports.

When 37 processed foods were analyzed by researchers, they found some surprising sources of hidden sodium.

Among their findings:

·         Low-fat cottage cheese:  A half-cup serving had twice the sodium (360 milligrams) as did a 1-ounce serving of regular potato chips (180 milligrams).

·         McDonald's Caesar salad with grilled chicken: This had more than double the salt (890 milligrams) as a large size order of McDonald's french fries (350 milligrams). Those numbers are without the dressing.

·         Prego's Heart Smart Traditional Italian Sauce: Only a half-cup serving delivered 430 milligrams of sodium, a little less than what the USDA allows per serving in foods that are labeled as "healthy."

Breakfast foods were another unexpected source of hidden salt. A whole-grain bagel contained 440 milligrams of sodium, a popular pancake mix packed 200 milligrams per pancake, and good old-fashioned raisin bran cereals had between 230 milligrams and 350 milligrams per serving. A maple and brown sugar-flavored instant oatmeal had more than triple the sodium as the original flavor.

You may not view bread as a salty food, but certain kinds may contain rather high quantities of sodium. For example, a six-and-a-half-inch pita contains more than 300 milligrams of salt.

The US Government has set 2,300 milligrams of sodium as the guidelines for maximum daily intake. In amounts above that, health problems can arise. The Institute Of Medicine declared that we need only 1,500 mg a day, less than that for those over 50. However, the average consumption in the U.S. exceeds 3,400 milligrams.

Salt is an essential electrolyte in your body. Your blood actually consists of 0.9% salt, which helps maintain the balance of sodium throughout your body. Pretty much every system in your body needs salt to make it function properly. It is particularly vital to your nervous system, but every structure in the body relies on it.

It’s the sodium ions in salt that your body needs to perform an array of essential functions. Salt helps to maintain the fluid in our blood cells and transmits information through our nerves and muscles. It is also needed to absorb certain nutrients in our small intestines. Your body cannot produce salt and therefore we are dependent on the food we eat to ensure that we take in the salt we need.

Salt is in your blood, sweat and tears. In the body water follows every molecule of salt. If you take in excessive amounts of salt, you will retain large amounts of water. For people with heart problems, kidney problems or high blood pressure, that can create serious issues.

The New England Journal of Medicine estimates that 150,000 lives could be saved each year if we lighten up on our salt intake.

One way that people have been trying to eat healthy is to choose salads when they go out for a quick meal. If you are trying to keep your heart healthy, it can be frustrating to discover that your supposedly healthy salad option comes loaded with salt.

According to a survey by the Consensus Action on Salt and Health, one in every ten salads has more salt than a McDonald's Big Mac.

Some of the salads in this survey contain over half of the recommended daily amount of salt for an adult in just one order of salad. Over a period of time, eating a diet that is heavy on the salt can increase your risk of raised blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.

The main problem: Salt makes food taste better. It's really difficult to alter a recipe by removing salt and still retain a pleasing taste. When restaurants and food manufacturers have launched low-sodium products, they haven't sold as well as their salted counterparts.

Watch your salt intake for better heart health. Another good way to help maintain a healthy heart is with our Health Heart Essentials™ . This easy to take supplement contains Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant which provides many benefits.

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