Most people are aware that they need to cut down on their salt (sodium) intake. That’s a good start. However, some ‘facts of life’ prove extremely helpful in the lower sodium quest, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Spoiler alert: your table salt shaker isn’t the main culprit.
- Restaurant foods and commercially processed foods sold in stores accounted for about 70 percent of dietary sodium intake in a study in three U.S. regions.
- Salt added at home during food preparation or at the table accounted for a small fraction of dietary sodium.
- These findings confirm earlier recommendations from the Institute of Medicine to lower dietary sodium by decreasing the amount in commercially processed foods.
The American Heart Association (AHA) says we keep our sodium intake below 1500 mg per day. If we eat a lot of these foods that is going to be a tough task.
Processed foods are big offenders in the sodium realm.
The AHA says:
Here are the approximate amounts of sodium, in milligrams, in a given amount of table salt:
- 1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
- 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
- 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
- 1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium
In the war of the waistline there are many skirmishes and outright battles. We win some and we lose some. Hopefully, on balance, more of the former and less of the latter. The battle is waged over a long period of time. Besides calorie consumption and exercise, there are other variables that enter into the equation, including genetics, sleep, stress and just the difference in individual bodies.
I have been fortunate in that the mathematical part has worked out fairly consistently and predictably for me, but I know that for many folks, they hit a plateau and can’t seem to penetrate it. They can starve themselves and still not get through.
Now comes a fascinating piece from the New York Times entitled Always Hungry? Here’s Why.
For me, the most important part of the article was the following two paragraphs:
“As it turns out, many biological factors affect the storage of calories in fat cells, including genetics, levels of physical activity, sleep and stress. But one has an indisputably dominant role: the hormone insulin. We know that excess insulin treatment for diabetes causes weight gain, and insulin deficiency causes weight loss. And of everything we eat, highly refined and rapidly digestible carbohydrates produce the most insulin. My emphasis
“By this way of thinking, the increasing amount and processing of carbohydrates in the American diet has increased insulin levels, put fat cells into storage overdrive and elicited obesity-promoting biological responses in a large number of people. Like an infection that raises the body temperature set point, high consumption of refined carbohydrates — chips, crackers, cakes, soft drinks, sugary breakfast cereals and even white rice and bread — has increased body weights throughout the population.” Continue reading