Salt Is Not Your Enemy – The Processed Food Is!

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Cut your salt! That’s too much! How often have you said that, or heard that in your life? Probably a good number of times. And, what’s interesting is that it is not your enemy (within reason of course). Processed food is the enemy. It often carries enough salt in one serving to max out three days of intake! And, vegans and vegetarians are not excused from this either. Anywhere there is processed food, it exists.

An article published in Vegetarian Times (2009) that stated this;

“Even if you’re healthy, too much overburdens the body and can tax your bones and kidneys, increasing osteoporosis risk, and meat-free diets are far from immune to salt excesses. Many vegetarian and vegan foods, particularly convenience foods, are high in sodium, fortunately, the foundations of a healthful diet—fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes—are naturally low in sodium.”

When consumed at the recommended serving size of 2300 mg a day is fine for seventy percent of the population who are not considered sodium sensitive.  The problem is that on average North Americans consume two to three times the recommended serving size. EVERY DAY.  

But, the larger issue is that many of us are completely unaware that we’re sodium offenders.  

Sodium levels remain unchanged or even slightly higher in most of the packaged food groups sold in Canada. Researchers who are questioning the effectiveness of the current voluntary approach to reducing salt in our food supply.

Are Some Types of Salt Better Than Others?

One question frequently brought up in the vegetarian and vegan communities is what type of salt is best. This is a difficult question to answer. There are a wide variety of salts available on the market;

  • Table Salt
  • Kosher Salt
  • Himalayan Pink Salt
  • Sea Salt

… among several others. 

All, claiming health benefits over the others. While the answer to this is unclear, there is some research demonstrating a difference in mineral content and flavour intensity of certain salts, that would be better options than common table salt.

Do you have a favourite you use when seasoning your food?

The body relies on this essential mineral (salt) for a variety of functions, including blood pressure and the transmission of nerve impulses. Sodium levels in the blood must be carefully maintained.

If you eat a lot — sodium chloride — you will become thirsty and drink water, diluting your blood enough to maintain the proper concentration of sodium. Ultimately you will excrete much of the excess salt and water in urine.

It is also known as sodium chloride (NaCl). It consists of 40% sodium and 60% chloride, by weight. Salt is by far the biggest dietary source of sodium, and the words ‘salt’ and sodium are often used interchangeably. 

Salt is harvested in two main ways: from salt mines and by evaporating sea water or other mineral-rich water.

Low Intake Can be Harmful

There is some evidence suggesting that a low-salt diet can be downright harmful.

The negative health effects include:

  • Elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides: Salt restriction has been linked to elevated LDL (the ‘bad’) cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Heart disease: Several studies report that less than 3,000 mg of sodium per day is linked to an increased risk of dying from heart disease 
  • Heart failure: One analysis found that restricting salt intake increased the risk of dying for people with heart failure. The effect was staggering, with a 160% higher risk of death in individuals who reduced their salt intake 
  • Insulin resistance: Some studies have reported that a low-salt diet may increase insulin resistance 
  • Type 2 diabetes: One study found that in type 2 diabetes patients, less sodium was associated with an increased risk of death 

Foods That are Higher in Sodium

Most of the salt in the modern diet comes from restaurant foods or packaged, processed foods. In fact, it is estimated that about 75% of the salt in the North American diet comes from processed food.

Only 25% of the intake occurs naturally in foods or is added during cooking or at the table. 

Salted snack foods, canned and instant soups, processed meat, pickled foods and soy sauce are examples of high-salt foods. There are also some seemingly unsalted foods that actually contain surprisingly high amounts of salt, including bread, cottage cheese and some breakfast cereals.

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Thank you so much for visiting! I hope you have found some valuable information, if so, I’d love to hear about it! Please feel free to share this post with anyone who might benefit, and comments are always welcomed and appreciated. 

I look forward to connecting with you next time!

And be sure to check out why you should order your family’s next meal courtesy of Ki’s Kitchen  
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From our kitchen to yours,

Love + Peace

Kiran 

 
 
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