Category Archives: sodium

Processed meats and cancer – Tufts

I am not a vegetarian, but I don’t eat a lot of meat generally out of concern for the fats mostly. They can really damage the system. That is my own decision and what you do is your business. It is worth knowing, however, that processed meats are another level up in terms of troubling our bodies. Following is what the Tufts Health and Nutrition Letter had to say on the subject.

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide are attributable to diets high in processed meats. While that number pales in comparison to the one million or so global cancer deaths related to smoking, it is significant enough to warrant a hard look at processed meats in our diets, especially because they are also associated with cardiovascular disease and other health conditions.

Processed Meat: “Generally speaking, a processed meat is one that has been salted, cured, smoked, fermented or undergone other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation,” says Joel B. Mason, MD, professor of medicine and nutrition at Tufts and director of the HNRCA Vitamins and Carcinogenesis Laboratory. Examples of processed meats include hot dogs (frankfurters), ham, sausage, corned beef, deli meats, and jerky. Continue reading

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5 Ways to use less salt – Harvard

Everyone knows that they don’t want to eat too much salt. Unfortunately, many folks think that by cutting down what they take out of the salt shaker, they are reducing their salt intake. Not exactly correct. True, you shake less salt on your food. However, that is not the biggest source of salt in the diet.

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Most of the salt that Americans consume comes from prepared and processed foods. The leading culprits include snack foods, sandwich meats, smoked and cured meats, canned juices, canned and dry soups, pizza and other fast foods, and many condiments, relishes, and sauces — for starters. But enough of it comes from the salt shaker at home that it’s worth finding alternatives. Here are five ways to cut back on sodium when cooking or at the table:

  1. Use spices and other flavor enhancers. Add flavor to your favorite dishes with spices, dried and fresh herbs, roots (such as garlic and ginger), citrus, vinegars, and wine. From black pepper, cinnamon, and turmeric to fresh basil, chili peppers, and lemon juice, these flavor enhancers create excitement for the palate — and with less sodium.
  2. Go nuts for healthy fats in the kitchen. Using the right healthy fats — from roasted nuts and avocados to olive, canola, soybean, and other oils — can add a rich flavor to foods, minus the salt.
  3. Sear, sauté, and roast. Searing or sautéing foods in a pan builds flavor. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of many vegetables and the taste of fish and chicken. If you do steam or microwave some dishes, perk them up with a finishing drizzle of flavorful oil and a squeeze of citrus.
  4. Get your whole grains from sources other than bread. Even whole-grain bread, though a healthier choice than white, can contain considerable sodium. Bread contains quite a bit of salt — not just for flavor, but to ensure that the dough rises properly. You can skip that extra salt when you look for whole grains outside of baking. For example, instead of toast with breakfast, cook up steel-cut oats, farro, or other intact whole grains with fresh or dried fruit.
  5. Know your seasons, and, even better, your local farmer. Shop for raw ingredients with maximum natural flavor, thereby avoiding the need to add as much (if any) sodium. Shop for peak-of-season produce from farmers’ markets and your local supermarket.

For more information on lifestyle changes that will help treat high blood pressure, buy Controlling Your Blood Pressure, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

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Accurate sodium intake measurements confirm relationship with mortality – Study

Eating foods high in salt is known to contribute to high blood pressure, but does that linear relationship extend to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death? Recent cohort studies have contested that relationship, but a new study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and their colleagues using multiple measurements confirms it. The study suggests that an inaccurate way of estimating sodium intake may help account for the paradoxical findings of others.

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“Sodium is notoriously hard to measure,” said Nancy Cook, ScD, a biostatistician in the Department of Medicine at BWH. “Sodium is hidden – you often don’t know how much of it you’re eating, which makes it hard to estimate how much a person has consumed from a dietary questionnaire. Sodium excretions are the best measure, but there are many ways of collecting those. In our work, we used multiple measures to get a more accurate picture.”

Sodium intake can be measured using a spot test to determine how much salt has been excreted in a person’s urine sample. However, sodium levels in urine can fluctuate throughout the day so an accurate measure of a person’s sodium intake on a given day requires a full 24-hour sample. In addition, sodium consumption may change from day to day, meaning that the best way to get a full picture of sodium intake is to take samples on multiple days.

While previous studies have used spot samples and the Kawasaki formula, the team assessed sodium intake in multiple ways, including estimates based on that formula as well as ones based on the gold-standard method, which uses the average of multiple, non-consecutive urine samples. They assessed results for participants in the Trials of Hypertension Prevention, which included nearly 3,000 individuals with pre-hypertension.

The gold-standard method showed a direct linear relationship between increased sodium intake and increased risk of death. The team found that the Kawasaki formula suggested a J-shaped curve, which would imply that both low levels and high levels of sodium consumption were associated with increased mortality.

“Our findings indicate that inaccurate measurement of sodium intake could be an important contributor to the paradoxical J-shaped findings reported in some cohort studies. Epidemiological studies should not associate health outcomes with unreliable estimates of sodium intake,” the authors wrote.

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Huge and unnecessary variation of salt levels in bread – survey

We hear a lot of talk about the amount of salt and sodium in our diets and the importance of trying to keep it limited. Some folks even remove their salt shakers from the tables. However, we get most sodium from our processed foods. So, we need to turn our focus to everything we eat, not just our salt shakers. Here is a study on how much salt can be found in the seemingly innocuous bread-food-healthy-breakfast.jpgbread on our tables.

  • Canadian bread product saltiest in survey of global bread products
  • Some breads surveyed had as much sodium (salt) as seawater
  • More than a third of breads worldwide have more salt than UK maximum salt
    reduction target for bread (1.5 g of salt or 600 mg of sodium /100 g)
  • 73% of Canadian breads exceeded Health Canada’s 2016 targets for sodium in bread products and 21% were above recommended maximum levels.

Bread features heavily in many diets worldwide, and is one of the biggest sources of salt in diets. A new survey by World Action on Salt and Health (WASH), based at Queen Mary University of London, has revealed the shocking levels of salt present in this essential staple. WASH surveyed over 2,000 white, wholemeal, mixed grain and flat breads from 32 countries and regions, including over 500 products from Canada collected by Professor Mary L’Abbe’s lab at the University of Toronto. Continue reading

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Salt satisfaction

Really nice write up on this common element that we all include in our daily diets.

Tony

Focus on food safety

salt2Sodium serves a vital purpose in the human body as it helps nerves and muscles to function correctly, and it is an important compound involved in maintaining fluid balance. Most of our dietary sodium intake is provided through the consumption of sodium chloride (common or table salt). About 80 per cent of this would come from processed foods and 20 per cent from salt used at the table or in home cooking. Table salt is made up of just under 40 per cent sodium by weight, so a 6 g serving (1 teaspoon) contains about 2,400 mg of sodium (note that some of the calculations below use the more exact 39 per cent of sodium).

Apart from table salt, it has been estimated that a further ten per cent of dietary sodium intake would be provided from naturally occurring sodium or sodium-containing food additives.

So far so good, but unfortunately high intakes of sodium can increase…

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Kicking the salt habit may not be enough – AHA

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.

Salt

Highlights

  • 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.

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TGI Friday’s Ribs and Shrimp – Bad Bet

There is a lot of talk about fast foods and processed foods being not as healthy for us. Here is a fine example of that from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

An order of TGI Friday’s Jack Daniel’s Ribs & Shrimp with Seasoned Fries and Coleslaw has 4,000 milligrams (mg) of sodium—more than one-and-a-half times the daily sodium limit (2,300 mg a day) for healthy adults.

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A diner who eats that entrée along with half a high-sodium appetizer and half a high-sodium dessert could end up swallowing 6,450 mg, or almost three days’ worth, of sodium.  The nonprofit Center for the Science in the Public Interest is releasing the first of a series of “Salt Assaults” spotlighting the incredibly (and unnecessarily) high sodium content of many packaged and restaurant foods.

“Consumers can always add salt to their food but they can’t remove what’s already there,” said Jim O’Hara, CSPI’s director of health promotion policy.  “Food companies, especially chain restaurants, are irresponsibly increasing their customers’ risk of heart disease by selling foods that are dangerously high in sodium.  The Food and Drug Administration’s proposed voluntary sodium-reduction targets for packaged and restaurant foods, if finalized, would help put consumers back in control.”

The Ribs & Shrimp meal isn’t the only problem with TGI Fridays, according to CSPI—it’s the entire menu.  If diners choose a typical entrée, they end up with 2,240 mg of sodium.  Adding half a typical appetizer and half a typical dessert brings the total to 3,490 mg of sodium—more than one and a half days’ worth.  (CSPI’s analysis did not include TGI Friday’s 474 menu, which offers “smaller portions of our signature dishes.”)

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans says that many adults can consume up to 2,300 mg of sodium, but adults with prehypertension and hypertension (about two-thirds of all adults) would do well to limit their consumption to 1,500 mg per day.

Tony

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What about those sports drinks?

There are a lot of seductive ads circulating these days encouraging folks who exercise to partake of them. However, I learned early on that there is a basic threshold for using sports drinks. And that is, how much are you exercising? If you are a weekend warrior and go to the health club mainly to socialize and walk on the treadmill or elliptical machine for a half hour while you watch one of the TVs or read, you likely don’t need to use a sports drink and you may be doing yourself some harm if you are.

Sports drinks contain sodium which your body needs to replenish if you have been exercising at least moderately heavily and working up a sweat. In that case, you can be using a sports drink to bring your body’s electrolytes back into balance.

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If you have been sweating a lot, getting sodium into your system is a good thing. But, if you haven’t, it isn’t necessarily.

Caitlin Howe, MS, MPH, of the American Heart Association Sodium Reduction Initiative says, “When it comes to winter physical activity, some people feel the need to consume energy and sports drinks during an afternoon walking in the cold air or skating on the lake. Sports drinks were initially designed for elite athletes, so most people can enjoy a winter workout without needing to replenish electrolytes or energy stores. Continue reading

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The Result of Eating Too Much Salt Can be Measured in Blood Pressure

More than 75 percent of sodium in the U.S. diet is found in the salt added to processed food. In the United States, about 9 of every 10 people consume too much sodium. The Salty Six foods – breads and rolls, cold cuts and cured meats, pizza, poultry, soup and sandwiches – are the leading sources of overall sodium in the U.S. diet.

Because of this it is really important to beware of eating processed food. Lots of folks cut down on their table salt, but that isn’t the real culprit in the sodium problem. They need to beware of the stealth sodium in the processed foods they eat.

Here are a few of the posts I have written on salt:

High Salt Diet Doubles Thread of Cardiovascular Disease in People with Diabetes

How Much Salt is Too Much Salt?

Some Sneaky Salt Statistics

Where Does All the Salt in our Diet Come From?

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

People who gradually increase the amount of salt in their diet and people who habitually eat a higher salt diet both face an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

In a Japanese study of more than 4,000 people who had normal blood pressure, almost 23 percent developed high blood pressure over a three year period. Those who ate the most salt were the most likely to have high blood pressure by the end of the study. Participants who gradually increased their sodium intake also showed gradually higher blood pressure.

The researchers estimated the amount of salt an individual was consuming by analyzing the amount of sodium in the urine of people who were visiting their healthcare provider for a routine check-up, and conducted follow-up urine analysis for approximately three years.

At the conclusion of the study…

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7 Myths on Sodium Consumption Busted – American Heart Association

The American Heart Association recommends we limit our sodium consumption to 1500 mg per day, but that doesn’t mean we have to eliminate salt from our diet. We just need to pay attention to how much we are consuming.

I thought there were some particularly useful ideas in this, particularly that 75 percent of the sodium we consume comes from processed foods.

ginormous

Tony

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What Are Six Sodium-boosting Popular Foods? – Infographic

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

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Sodium: How Much Is Too Much, and How Little Is Too Little?

The IOM report concluded that, while high levels of sodium intake definitely are related to risk of cardiovascular disease, there aren’t enough good data on health outcomes to determine what impact sodium intake below 2,300 mg per day has on the risk of heart disease, stroke, or other causes of death in the general US population.

To read further on sodium, check out Count Sodium as well as Calories at Fast Food Outlets, What Foods Hide High Sodium? How Much Sodium is in Protein Bar Lunches? Nutrition Myths Debunked – Myth 5 Adding salt to the pot adds sodium to the food.

Tony

 

Cooking with Kathy Man

Judith C. Thalheimer, RD, LDN wrote in Today’s Dietitian …..

It’s a fact: People who consume high levels of sodium tend to have higher blood pressure and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.1,2 But how much is too much? And how little is too little? The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend the general population limit daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg, with high risk groups striving for no more than 1,500 mg.1 The American Heart Association (AHA) supports a 1,500 mg target for everyone.3 But a 2013 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report seemed to question parts of those recommendations, and data from new, high-powered studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine are feeding the controversy. Why is there so much confusion surrounding sodium recommendations? And what should dietitians and other health professionals be advising their clients and patients to do?

Americans and Salt

The average American…

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High-Salt Diet Doubles Threat of Cardiovascular Disease in People with Diabetes

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 29.1 million Americans have some form of diabetes. This population is at risk for heart disease. Between 2003 and 2006, cardiovascular disease death rates were about 1.7 times higher among adults diagnosed with diabetes than those who were not, according to the CDC’s 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report.

To read further about the impact of salt on our bodies, check out: U.K. Salt Reduction Drives Down Stroke and Heart Disease Deaths, How Much is Too Much Salt? Is It Worth Cutting Salt and Boosting Potassium? Some Sneaky Salt Statistics, Where Does All the Salt in OUr Diet Come From? Count Sodium as Well as Calories at Fast Food Outlets.

Tony

Cooking with Kathy Man

People with Type 2 diabetes who eat a diet high in salt face twice the risk of developing cardiovascular disease as those who consume less sodium, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

Diabetes occurs when there is too much sugar in the bloodstream. People develop Type 2 diabetes when their bodies become resistant to the hormone insulin, which carries sugar from the blood to cells.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 29.1 million Americans have some form of diabetes. This population is at risk for heart disease. Between 2003 and 2006, cardiovascular disease death rates were about 1.7 times higher among adults diagnosed with diabetes than those who were not, according to the CDC’s 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report.

“The study’s findings provide clear scientific evidence supporting low-sodium diets to reduce the rate of…

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Count Sodium as well as Calories at Fast Food Outlets

Being aware of calorie consumption is a very useful tool in getting control of your weight. However, a recent study by the New York City Health Department made some interesting findings regarding sodium, according to MedPage Today.

High salt/sodium intake is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends that adults stay under 1500 mg of sodium per day, and never take in more than 2,300 mg a day.

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The MedPage fast food study showed:

▪    About 57% of the meals exceeded the 1,500-mg daily sodium level.

▪    Fried chicken outlets including KFC and Popeye’s were the worst offenders, with 83% of meals exceeding 1500 mg of sodium and 55% of the meals surpassing 2,300 mg of sodium.

▪    At only one of the 11 chains included in the study, Au Bon Pain, did more than 7% of meals contain less than 600 mg, the FDA’s “healthy” sodium level for meals. But even there, 46% of meals had 1,500 mg or more of sodium.

▪    Even those eating lower calorie meals were likely to exceed their daily sodium limit within a single meal.

Because of the higher sodium content in fast food fare, it would seem logical to try and refrain from adding salt to your meal.

Tony

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U.K. Salt Reduction Drives Down Stroke and Heart Disease Deaths

The British government has successfully educated individuals about reducing their sodium consumption and has aggressively encouraged companies to market less-salty foods, the Center for Science in the Public Interest reported.

And according to the findings published in BMJ Open, those efforts are likely partly responsible for plummeting rates of heart attack and stroke deaths in the United Kingdom.

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It’s a shame that while the British government has actively prompted progress on the part of industry and consumers, our Food and Drug Administration dithers, waiting in vain for more than 40 years for companies to voluntarily cut salt.  It’s a strategy that has plainly failed, as Americans are still getting more than twice as much sodium as they should, mostly from processed and restaurant foods.

Almost four years ago the Institute of Medicine called on the FDA to set mandatory limits on the levels of sodium allowed in various categories of food.  Doing that would have been the single most effective (and inexpensive) thing the FDA could have done to save hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of health care dollars.  Halving Americans’ sodium intake could save 100,000 lives annually.  Because the Obama Administration hasn’t done anything, America is unnecessarily digging about 100,000 early graves every year, each to be filled with a heart attack or stroke victim.

I want to clarify that I am against government telling us we can’t have diet sodas over 16 ounces like in New York, but it seems the government can make some rules on healthy amounts of certain ingredients like salt and sugar which have proven harmful to us humans. As the CSPI release said, we are digging 100,000 early graves a year. Talk about Nero fiddling while Rome burns. We have the FDA fiddling while citizens who don’t pay attention to their health are dying at a terrible rate.

Salt consumption has been a subject of numerous posts in this blog. Here are a few:

How Much is Too Much Salt?

Some Sneaky Salt Statistics

Why is Walmart Cutting Sugar, Fat and Salt in its Foods?

Where Does All the Salt in our Diets Come From?

Tony

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Are There Health Risks in Hot Yoga?

I got into yoga some years ago when I dated a woman who taught it. We went out for about two years and did yoga at least once a day. After we split up I still did yoga daily for several years.This was all before the current yoga craze. My experience of yoga was totally positive. I achieved excellent physical balance and learned through breath control to deal with stress. I can’t give you a good reason for stopping outside of mental and physical inertia.

I did not do hot yoga, nor even hear of it in that time. If you aren’t aware of it, hot yoga is done in a temperature of 105  Fahrenheit with humidity around 40 percent.

Those are hot conditions to do anything.

hot-yoga

Consumer Reports recently reported on woman who complained that it left her light-headed, fatigued and weak. “I was completely exhausted, just depleted,” Julianne Pepe said of her reactions after practicing hot yoga.

These sound suspiciously like the symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stoke.

As a cyclist in all four seasons, I am very aware of these symptoms. Please check out my page – What to Do About Extreme Heat for more on the dangers of extreme heat.

I haven’t heard a lot of reports like this from folks doing hot yoga. I know there are good aspects of the heat, too. Studio owner, Rich Pike, told Consumer Reports, “Heat allows you to bend safely and be more flexible. What the sweating does is it eliminates toxins through your sweat.”

It is true that sweating releases toxins from the body. But, keep in mind sweat contains other chemicals including salt and potassium which are vital electrolytes. Doing an extended hot yoga session and getting dehydrated can be dangerous to your health.

As in all situations, you need to listen to what your body is telling you. If you are benefitting from the practice, you won’t be getting mixed signals like confusion, light-headedness, etc.

Tony

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