Sodium Levels - Use of Salt

A place to get your questions answered from McDougall staff dietitian, Jeff Novick, MS, RDN.

Moderators: JeffN, Heather McDougall, carolve

Sodium Levels - Use of Salt

Postby Bella » Wed Mar 05, 2008 2:00 pm

I just finished watching both the VSH videos. They are GREAT!!!!!!

My question is, how important is it to monitor sodium/salt levels?

My blood pressure is very low (84/46 and NO meds of any kind) so I'm not concerned with hypertension. I do keep my sodium levels low (not using salt or using low-sodium varieties) but in looking through my cupboards, almost everything I have is above the 1:1 ratio!

Should I revamp or stay the course?

Thanks!!
Bella
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:14 pm

Re: Sodium Levels - Use of Salt

Postby JeffN » Wed Mar 05, 2008 3:55 pm

Hi Bella

Bella wrote:I just finished watching both the VSH videos. They are GREAT!!!!!!


Thanks!!

Bella wrote: My question is, how important is it to monitor sodium/salt levels?!


I think for most Americans, whose sodium intake is 10x what is needed by the body and 3-4x what is recommended by the IOM, and 2x the upper limit, it is very important.

Bella wrote:My blood pressure is very low (84/46 and NO meds of any kind) so I'm not concerned with hypertension. I do keep my sodium levels low (not using salt or using low-sodium varieties) but in looking through my cupboards, almost everything I have is above the 1:1 ratio!


Processed and packaged foods contribute the majority of the sodium in most peoples diets and, as you have learned, it is well hidden unless you have a system to help you understand how much is really there.

The "low sodium" health claim is based on sodium in milligrams per serving. That is irrelevant to you as an individual and your health as our limiting factor each day is not how many servings we eat but how many calories we eat. That is why my guideline is based on sodium in milligrams per calories per serving. And, as you have probably seen, many low sodium foods are actually very high in sodium.

Let me explain

As we can now see, most all the excess sodium is coming from two places:

1) Packaged/processed foods. Most all the excess is hidden in packaged and processed foods.

2) Excess calories. If we eat more calories than we need of foods rich in sodium, then we are not only getting in the extra calories from the food, but if it is the typical high salt food, we are also getting in excess sodium along with those extra calories.

The current system on limiting sodium is to limit sodium per serving. However, serving sizes are not standardized across food groups and products nor are these serving sizes standardized per calories. So, when can easily get in excess sodium while still consuming low sodium foods.

We need a system that will limit excess sodium from both packaged processed foods and from excess calories.

That is where sodium density comes.

Sodium density is the ratio of the amount of sodium to the amount of calories. It can be applied to a product, a meal and to ones daily intake. This allows us to analyze and limit sodium in packaged foods and, by also relating it to calories, we also get to limit sodium from excess calories.

We can take care of #1 by limiting the amount of packaged foods we eat and when we do buy them, making sure the sodium to calories ration is less then 1:1. The reason is, most American need about 2300 calories per day and the UL for sodium is 2300. So, theoretically speaking, if we limit the amount of sodium per calorie (1:1 ratio) we will never go over the 2300. Now, not everyone consumes 2300 calories and we also dont want you to push the UL of sodium to 2300 but remember, we don’t want you living out of packaged foods. So, packaged foods with a 1:1 ratio (or less) will only be contributing a small amount of calories to your day.

We can take care of #2 but choosing foods low to moderate in calorie density.

By incorporating these two things, we can easily and effectively lower the sodium in our diets.

Bella wrote:Should I revamp or stay the course?


For now, stay the course and get a better picture of where you are at. Track how much sodium you are getting in total from all the packaged processed foods you eat.

Whole natural foods straight from the garden will provide around 300-500 mgs of sodium per day. The IOM recommended amounts are 1200-1500. The Upper Limit is 2300. So, this leaves you a little lee-way of around 700-1000 to still be within the recommended amounts and up to 1800 mgs to be under the upper limit. With no added salt coming from anywhere else, this leaves most people the ability to add around 1/2 to 3/4 tsp a day without increasing their risks.

So, first, just see how much you are getting from packaged foods.

Also, sodium is much more than BP. Excess salt is a direct cause of stomach cancer (though usually not a main issue in the USA as we do not have a high incidence). Excess salt is also related to osteoporosis. Excess salt increases your need for calcium. Salt is also related to GERD and congestive heart failure.

So, take a look and see how much you are getting in.

In Health
Jeff Novick, MS, RD
Last edited by JeffN on Thu Mar 06, 2008 3:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
JeffN
 
Posts: 9021
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2008 5:56 am

Postby Bella » Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:47 am

Thanks so much for such a quick reply. I'll start tracking my sodium - might be an eye opener! :eek:
Bella
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Tue Jan 09, 2007 6:14 pm


Return to Jeff Novick, RD

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests



Welcome!

Sign up to receive our regular articles, recipes, and news about upcoming events.