Thursday, January 16, 2014

No No Na, Sodium That Is

All this news about salt - what does it really mean?  First of all, salt is NaCl and sodium is Na and that is the mineral you see listed on Nutrition Facts panels.  It is a nutrient of concern in many American's diets.  The Institute of Medicine recommends 2300 mg of sodium per day for adults.  But, and it is a big but, if you are African American or have high blood pressure or have heart disease or have diabetes or have kidney disease or are over age 51, the recommendation is just 1500 mg per day.  Over half of Americans are in those categories.

Again, what does that mean?  Most Americans don't speak metric and have no idea if 100, 1000, or a million mg is a little or a lot.  So let's make this visual.  A teaspoon of salt is about 2400 mg of sodium, so that is about what an adult should have per day, if you do not fall under all the other conditions.
A recent report from CDC says 80-90% of 1-13 year olds and fully 90% of 14-50 year olds still consume more than the recommended amount of sodium.

So this teaspoon of salt-is it just the salt shaker or salt added while cooking?  No.  It is all that AND the sodium in all your foods, from canned tomatoes to frozen pizza.  Tough to keep it under a teaspoon for the whole day, right?  Avoiding processed foods is a great start.  Cooking from scratch lets you decide how much sodium goes into your dish.

Personally, I think the solution is herbs.  No, not as in the recent Colorado solution.  There is so much flavor to be had from herbs that the use of salt in food production and preparation can dramatically decrease.  Herbs are available dried and have a long shelf life.  Plus, fresh herbs are easy to grow.  I think the problem is we don't know how to cook with herbs - how much, what goes with what, how to adjust recipes when using fresh instead of dried.  We've hired a chef to help us with this in the schools and I recommend you turn to cookbooks and internet sources to answer your questions about using herbs.
There are loads of internet cooking sites, but here is a ".edu" site from the University of Nebraska that I recommend - they won't try to sell you anything and it is good, sound information: click here to visit the site. They also have herb planting info, herb related videos for our visual learners, and "cook it quick" tips.

(Center for Disease Control-Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, December 2013)

1 comment:

  1. Here is a new, great graphic to show you what half your daily value of sodium looks like in terms of common foods:
    Take a look!


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