Pass the Salt!?

New research may make you think twice before adding more salt to your foods.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) was never thought to be a health risk for children. Neither was Type 2 Diabetes, or NASH (Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis), however, with the rise in obesity, diseases like hypertension have moved into the younger population.

Recent research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at data from over 6000 kids between the ages of 8-18 over a 5-year period. Researchers reviewed all foods consumed and calculated salt intake. On average, results reported the children consumed 3300 milligrams daily, which is over 1000 mg more than recommended daily intake. Results indicated 15 percent had high blood pressure or pre-hypertension (blood pressure was slightly elevated). Most importantly, those who ate the most salt faced double the risk of having elevated blood pressure, compared to those who had a lower sodium intake. Further, the risk of high blood pressure was more than triple if the children were overweight or obese.

These results are particularly important due to the fact that elevated blood pressure, even just prehypertension, can lead to high blood pressure in adulthood and potentially premature heart disease.

How quickly does 2300 milligrams (mg) add up?
Bagel, plain, enriched (4 inch) – 475 mg
Cottage cheese, 2% milkfat (1 cup) – 918 mg
Soup, chicken rice with vegetables (1 cup) – 459 mg
Turkey roast, boneless (3 oz) – 578 mg
TOTAL = 2430 mg

Some other foods with notable sodium content:
Baked beans, canned, with franks (1 cup) – 1114 mg
Bread crumbs, dry, seasoned (1 cup) – 2111 mg
Breakfast biscuit, egg and sausage (1 biscuit) – 1141 mg
Cheese, American (1 oz) – 422 mg
Crab, imitation (3 oz) – 715 mg
Fast food, sub sandwich with cold cuts (6 inch) – 1651 mg
Macaroni and cheese, canned entrée (1 cup) – 1061 mg
Potato salad, home prepared (1 cup) – 1323 mg
Pretzels, hard, plain, salted (10 small) – 1029 mg
Soy sauce (1 TBSP) – 902 mg
Source: USDA National Nutrient Database, Release 17

Tips to decrease your salt intake:
1. Look for lower sodium versions of packaged foods such as soups, ready-to-eat cereals, pasta sauce, deli meats, or canned vegetables.
2. Check the facts! Read the nutrition facts label to determine how much sodium is contained in foods you consume. Make sure to understand how much is in one serving. If it is close to your daily total (~2500), think twice.
3. Condiments count! Look for low-sodium or sodium-free, or use sparingly.
4. Avoid the salt shaker! Remove the salt from your dinner table, so your family isn’t tempted to add salt to foods. Out of sight, out of mind.

For more sodium facts, check out the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

Lara Field MS, RD, LDN is a Registered Dietitian and Specialist in Pediatrics with over a decade of clinical and client experience. When she’s not actively working to keep her clients healthy, she’s a busy mother of two active boys and loves testing new recipes in her kitchen. Follow her on Instagram to see her recipe ideas, product suggestions, and see how she manages a healthy lifestyle @larafield.