Many of us have had a long love affair with salt, but that may
be about to change. Earlier this year, the Institute of Medicine
urged the U.S. government to gradually reduce the maximum amount of
sodium that food companies and restaurants can add to foods. Why?
Excess sodium is linked to hypertension, heart attack, stroke,
renal disease and decreased bone density.
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there is a
difference between salt and sodium. Salt is made up of sodium
chloride: 60 percent is sodium, the rest chloride. Both minerals
are necessary for life, but things have gotten out of hand.
According to the CDC, the average American ingests about 3,400
milligrams a day. The latest health organization recommendations
range from 1,500 milligrams-which many dietitians feel is
unrealistic-to 2,400 milligrams. Most nutrition experts estimate
that about 75 percent comes from processed food, not the salt
Not all medical doctors agree that everyone needs to limit salt.
But there is growing evidence that a significant number of people
have a condition called salt sensitivity, an abnormal increase in
blood pressure in response to increases in dietary sodium.
Unfortunately, there is no simple test for this. According to
research performed by Dr. Myron H. Weinberger, certain
salt-sensitive people do not necessarily develop hypertension, but
their long-term mortality rate is just as high as those who do.
Busy family lives often necessitate taking dietary shortcuts
that are high in sodium: frozen meats, entrees and pizzas; rice and
soup mixes; canned fish and soup; seasoning mixes and prepared
spaghetti sauce. Hurrying in and out of drive-thrus and especially
dining out at restaurants provides another huge dose. Some
restaurant entrees have 2,000 milligrams or more in one order.
Do you need to be concerned about how much sodium your child
ingests? Yes. A taste for salt is acquired, and salt-loving
children grow up to be adults who eat a salty diet. A 2001 report
said that by age 7-9, 68 percent of children ate too much sodium.
Just like adults, some kids are salt sensitive. And salty foods are
often high in fat and calories. Two years ago, a study published in
the journal Hypertension found that the more salty food children
ate, the more sugary sodas they drank to wash it down.
It's not easy for food companies to simply drop the salt due to
the many roles it plays. For example, salt allows the proteins in
milk to knit together to become cheese. Bread dough depends on
sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate in order to rise.
Here are some tips to reduce the sodium in your family's
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes
Sprinkle seasoning evenly over both sides of pork chops.
Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add pork chops; cook 4
minutes per side or until desired doneness.
Alternate prep method:
Grill chops, over direct heat, turning once, to medium doneness
or until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees Fahrenheit,
about 3-4 minutes per side.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition facts: 253 calories, 17 g fat, 24
grams protein, 1 gram carbohydrate, 78 milligrams cholesterol, 252
milligrams sodium, 0 grams fiber Recipe courtesy of McCormick.com.
Christine M. Palumbo, RD, is a nutritionist living in Naperville.
See more of Christine's stories here.
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