The Real Reason Why There’s So Much Sodium in Your Diet

Three-quarters of the sodium in your diet isn’t from a salt shaker: it can be found where you least expect it. Find out how salt sneaks into your diet.

The Trouble with Salt

Here’s a mystery: you shake a few grains of salt on your scrambled eggs, add a pinch to your mixed green salad at lunch and then scatter a bit more on dinner’s baked potato and roasted chicken. The total? Scarcely 1⁄2 teaspoon. Yet somehow, most people actually consume nearly two heaping teaspoons of blood pressure-raising sodium chloride daily.

Where Does It All Come From?

Three-quarters of the sodium in our diets isn’t from a salt shaker. It’s hidden in processed foods, such as canned vegetables and soups; condiments, such as soy and Worcestershire sauce; fast-food burgers (and fries); and cured or preserved meats, such as bacon and sliced ham or turkey.

Some occurs naturally in unprocessed edibles, such as milk, beets and celery. That’s a good thing: sodium is necessary for life. It helps to regulate blood pressure, maintains the body’s fluid balance, transmits nerve impulses, makes muscles contract, and keeps your senses of taste, smell and touch working properly. You need a little every day to replace what is lost to sweat, tears and other excretions.

Safe Upper Limit

But is more salt harmful? Scientists—and the salt industry—have debated this for decades but medical evidence suggests that it is. Medical experts around the world agree: Most people eat too much salt. There is a strong link between a high salt diet and the development of high blood pressure. Reducing blood pressure lowers your risk of stroke and heart disease.

Cutting down on sodium? Instead of tossing the table salt, put it to work around the house! Here are five brilliant new uses for salt.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada