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American's Salt Obsession and Health Problems

Salt "Is Like Cocaine" to Your Taste Buds

Salty cravings run rampant in my house, so I can understand people's obsession with using this white stuff. The problem is, between overly salted processed foods and excessive dumping sprinkling, most Americans end up eating over a teaspoon and a half a day, which Time magazine reports as "more than double the 1,500 mg our bodies need." This line from the article just about sums up our salt obsession: "Like attention, praise and porn, salt is one of those instant gratifiers that are easy to get too much of and hard to get by without."

Salt is the ultimate spice since it enhances a food's flavor, and opens up our taste buds, which makes everything taste better. The reason so much salt is used is because there's no healthy and comparable salt substitute, like there is for sugar. But excessive sodium in the diet raises blood pressure, which puts a person at risk for heart attacks and stroke. Not to mention, consuming a lot of salt also taxes your kidneys, which increases your risk of kidney disease and stomach cancer.

Since only about 11 percent of a person's salt intake comes from a salt shaker that means we down the rest of our sodium from food that already contains it like the takeout we ordered from down the street and packaged foods from the grocery store. Many people just don't realize how high the sodium content is in common foods. Two slices of pepperoni pizza contain 1365 mg!

In April, a report by the Institute of Medicine called for "federal limits on sodium content in packaged and restaurant food." The FDA has yet to make any specific rules, but I'm wondering, does it make you feel better to know that mandatory sodium reduction could be on the horizon, or should food be left as is so people can make their own decisions about how much salt they consume?

Join The Conversation
linkinpark9503 linkinpark9503 7 years
i dont ever excess salt stuff. if something is too salty it makes me sick. but there are some things i wouldnt eat if it didnt have salt on it, like edamame. mmmmmm
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
I'm okay with a salt limit. High amounts of salt is arguably harmful, so I have no problems with setting limits. Personally, I add no salt to my food. I much rather season food with herbs and garlic. To my palette, the food is tastier, and depending on the herb, it adds lovely color.
Rigatoni Rigatoni 7 years
MariahGem- Thank you for being the first to stand up for what's right, although at least you weren't the only one to point out that a legal limit seems a bit excessive. NO, WE DO NOT NEED A LEGAL LIMIT. I'm a self-proclaimed health nut, but guess what? The purpose of government is to keep us safe and protect our liberties; it is NOT to take care of us, baby us, decide what is healthy/ unhealthy. The government's job is NOT to make sure your delicious little bowl of soup has just the right saltiness or that you can still enjoy your favorite dish despite your intentional decision to consume less sodium. Is excessive salt intake linked to hypertension? Yes. Is it the only factor? No. Even if there were regulations to decrease sodium, I seriously doubt anyone would see huge improvements in health. Like you said, you can just use the salt guess what everyone would do to lowered-salt foods (assuming that the companies didn't then turn to another additive, like MSG...)? Everyone would just add their own salt. We need to take responsibility for ourselves and stop expecting the government to take care of every little tiny aspect of our lives. If you actually give a frack about this issue, read this article, it explains why there are so many more problems with salt regulation than what I have explained here:
MariahGem MariahGem 7 years
I ALWAYS believe it's better to leave things to people to make their own choices rather than have a government decision to "take care of us". There's been more than enough info out there for at least 20 years about how too much salt can be bad for you. And even if you say you never heard it from TV or papers or whatever, your doctor HAS to have mentioned it! If people choose to ignore that, then it's their own choice.
Soniabonya Soniabonya 7 years
I agree. There should be a limit. I went out to eat with the family in laws at a Chili's and my freaking "fresh broccoli" had so much salt on it I had to ask for a new plate since I gagged on the first bite. If people want to have more salt, then they could salt their own meals. I hardly ever salt anything, and when I taste salt, it's like a sucker punch to my taste buds.
GirlOverboard GirlOverboard 7 years
Hi everyone. My name is GirlOverboard and I am a salt whore. (Hi GirlOverboard) When I was young, I used to literally just sprinkle a little bit of table salt into my hand and eat it. I would salt buttered popcorn until it practically glittered with it. To this day, I salt my veggies, I salt my rice, I salt my corn on the cob. For me, if it isn't sweet, it has to be salty... or both. Salted chocolate caramels and chocolate covered pretzels are a big weakness. I'm currently trying to reduce my salt intake but it's difficult, especially since my Mother-In-Law, who recently moved in with us and insists on always cooking dinner, likes covering everything in salt, gravy or cheese. Has anyone had any luck with replacing salt with other spices? I'm wondering if I could be happy with sprinkling a tiny bit of something spicy onto a baked potato or pasta or veggies instead of, or mixed with very little, straight-up salt. Are there any good flavorings out there that aren't mixed with salt or have a low sodium content that would help keep some of my favorite dishes from being so bland?
2muchtv 2muchtv 7 years
A limit should definitely occur. I've reduced my salt intake quite a bit, and my palate adjusted with it. However, I can barely eat at any restaurants anymore, because they make the food too salty. What bugs me is that the last time this happened to me, it as for soup. I can add salt with the salt shaker, why make soup salty?
sourcherries sourcherries 7 years
I think a limit is needed. Lately when I go out to eat, there have been instances where the food was inedible due to the salt content whereas previously I could enjoy.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
Not everyone's super sensitive to salt...I use salt pretty liberally when I cook, but then again, I use mostly nonprocessed raw foods so I can control how much salt I put in. I'm guessing I probably use far less than most restaurants or food processing plants.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
I don't know how I feel about there being a "legal limit" to the amount of salt restaurants can put in food. I think that's going too far, especially since there are ingredients in processed foods that are way worse than salt (added MSG, hydrogenated oils, etc.).
mandaleebee mandaleebee 7 years
I rarely add salt to any of my recipes anymore. For one, some of the ingredients already contain a lot of sodium, and 2, there are so many amazing seasonings out there that can make a so-so dish taste incredible! Why limit yourself to one you shouldn't be having more of?
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 7 years
I'm very curious about how they could possibly regulate this. Would this mean that on my splurge days I couldn't order my chipotle with every salsa? I never add extra salt to anything and my sodium count is almost always over for the day; it's such a bummer. (I monitor it on thedailyplate.)
ella1978 ella1978 7 years
I would love a limit.. It's amazing that when people try to make prepared foods "healthy" they just add a ton of salt, figuring that it will give things flavor! WRONG - it tastes like SALT! I'll be looking forward to some kind of restriction.
imLissy imLissy 7 years
I think a limit would be great. While it should be up to us to read labels and limit our sodium intake, it's hard when everything has so much salt in it! We try to buy low sodium all the time, but the options are definitely more limited. That and when you eat out, you have no idea what they put in the food. I'm not too concerned because I think I do better than most people, but it would make life a little easier.
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