For some people, it's a far more tempting ingredient than sugar.
While table salt, chemically known as sodium chloride (NaCl), might not have the same impact on your caloric intake as sweet treats, salt can definitely have a bad effect on your health. It can increase your blood volume as well as cause your body to retain excess fluids, both of which put more stress on your heart. Overtime this can increase your overall blood pressure, damaging artery walls and making them vulnerable to atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries) and increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, experts estimate that excess sodium kills 150,000 people yearly, prompting the American Medical Association (AMA) to advocate adding warning labels to foods high in sodium.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that healthy people eat less than 2300 mg of sodium per day (less than 1500 for African Americans, middle-aged and older adults, and those with high blood pressure). Unfortunately, however, 75 percent of the sodium in the average American diet comes from salt added to processed or restaurant foods. So, even if you don't add any salt to your food, chances are high that you're eating way more than you think if you eat processed foods.
Foods to beware of:
1. Asian foods (Main Culprits: monosodium glutamate (MSG) and soy sauce)
2. Pizza (Main Culprits: cheese, meat toppings like Canadian bacon and sausage)
3. Starbucks (Main Culprits: drinks like the Java Chip Frappuccino contain 300 mg sodium and Propel Fitness Water contains 104 mg)
4. Baked goods like cookies, muffins, bread and doughnuts (Main Culprits: Baking soda, which has 1259 mg sodium per teaspoon, added salt)
5. Cold and instant hot cooked cereals, pancake and waffle mixes, canned vegetables and snack chips (Main Culprit: added sodium and preservatives like sodium nitrite)
Table salt is approximately 40% sodium and 60% chloride.
Here are some serving equivalents to help you control your intake:
1/4 teaspoon salt = 600 mg sodium
1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,200 mg sodium
3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,800 mg sodium
1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium
www.heart.org (American Heart Association)