How Much Salt Intake is Too Much?

Healthy Living

August 15, 2017

There’s plenty of research out there that tells you that it’s important to watch your salt intake or it can result in high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, cirrhosis and a host of other chronic diseases that can be life threatening. But on the other hand, salt is not necessarily the enemy and is an important part of a healthy chemical balance your body needs to survive. Finding the perfect salt balance is the key to your having good overall health and mental wellness.

How Much Salt Is Healthy In Your Diet

According to leading health experts on dietary requirements, such as the National Academy of Sciences, the American Heart Association and the National High Blood Pressure Education Program, the right amount of salt in your daily diet shouldn’t exceed more than 2,400 milligrams a day.

The idea of this recommendation is to prevent excessive levels of sodium in your diet, rather than later having to put people with high sodium levels on a salt restricted diet due to overconsumption. Many people prefer this approach rather than being put on a low sodium diet which people often have difficulty following. By eating less processed foods and through watching how much salt you add to your meals, both in preparing and consumption at the table, experts agree you can easily stay within the daily recommendations.

However, it should be noted that your physician may prescribe a salt restricted diet of less than 2,400 milligrams a day due to certain health conditions you may have.

How Sodium Gets In Your Daily Diet

Typically, Americans consume 75% of the sodium in their diets from the foods they eat, in particular processed foods, and that’s before adding salt to your food at the table or in cooking. By the way, nearly two-thirds of people studied said they do add salt to their food at the table and/or in the cooking process for seasoning purposes (taste).

It’s approximated that 20 percent of the sodium in your diet comes from seasoning in cooking or at the table. But most of the sodium in your diet (75%) stems from the way the foods you’re eating are being processed (with salt); i.e. processed grains, meats (especially processed deli lunch meats), poultry, fish, nuts, dry beans, and eggs (water treatment and medications account for the rest of the sodium in American diets). Meals that’re considered “combination” entrees, like spaghetti with a meat sauce or pizza (with a meat topping) account for most of the increased sodium content in our diets. So it’s important to be mindful of the salt content of each food, but also what the sodium level will be when combining foods for an entrée.

The Truth About Sea Salt

Health gurus and healthy eating chefs have been promoting sea salt as a healthier form of sodium in your diet, some seeming even freer with their use of sea salt than regular table salt. The truth of the matter is they both contain the same amounts of sodium! Don’t be fooled. Sea salt doesn’t give you the freedom of a heavy hand when it comes to seasoning or cooking with sea salt, your sodium restrictions remain the same no matter which form of salt you’re using.

Other Sources Of Salt In Your Diet

Condiments are another (hidden) source of sodium that you need to make yourself more aware of. Many people don’t take into consideration the high salt content of the condiments they add to recipes or prepared foods, such as; 1 tablespoon of brown or yellow mustard contains 200 mgs of sodium, or worse yet, soy sauce it’s got 1,000 milligrams of salt in a tablespoon! Be informed on the tasty condiments that’re also high in sodium, it’ll help you regulate your sodium intake.

And one more, don’t forget that sodium is also found in many of the beverages you drink too, including water. Salt can be found in most beverages to a greater or lesser degree; some may surprise you while others you would likely expect to be high in sodium, such as a margarita with a whopping 950 mgs of salt.

Below is the salt content of common beverages Americans typically consume: (8 fl oz serving or 1 cup)

  • Margarita (salt rimmed glass): 950 mgs
  • Bloody Mary: 249 mgs
  • Energy Drinks: 202 mgs
  • Chocolate milk (reduced fat): 165 mgs
  • Milk Shake: 154 mgs
  • Soy milk: 135 mgs
  • Milk (nonfat): 127 mgs
  • Milk (1% low fat): 107 mgs
  • Milk (2% reduced fat) 100 mgs
  • Whole Milk: 98 mgs
  • Café Latte Drinks: 63 mgs
  • Cappuccino: 50 mgs
  • Coffee: 5 mgs
  • Tea: 7 mgs
  • Ice Cream Soda: 58 mgs
  • Diet Soda: 38 mgs
  • Root Beer: 32 mgs
  • Soda: 10 mgs
  • Fruit Smoothie: 28 mgs
  • Beer: 10 mgs
  • White Wine: 12 mgs
  • Water: 5 mgs

Sodium is Essential in Proper Amounts

Your body requires sodium to function properly. Without the necessary amount of salt intake on a daily basis many of your organs can be affected and not function optimally. Sodium helps your body:

  • Enables you to maintain the proper balance of fluids in your body
  • Assists in transmitting nerve impulses
  • Has an influence on the contraction and relaxation of your muscles

As mentioned above, leading health experts all state that Americans should limit their daily sodium intake to no more than 2,400 milligrams, which most Americans typically exceed. And while sodium is an essential nutritional/metabolic requirement your body needs to function properly, too much salt can have serious health consequences.

Reading food and beverage labels and being mindful of the salt content you put both in and on your food is an easy method of maintaining a healthy balance of salt in your diet and the beverages you choose to consume. Strike up a healthy salt balance and you may live a longer, healthier life.