The Ugly Truth About The American Diet
Did you know that on average, Americans eat more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day — much more than the American Heart Association and other health organizations recommend?
Because the average American’s sodium intake is so excessive, even cutting back to no more than 2,400 milligrams a day will significantly improve blood pressure and heart health.
More than 75 percent of the sodium Americans eat comes from some processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods – not from the salt shaker.
Here are the approximate amounts of sodium in a given amount of table salt:
- 1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
- 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
- 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
- 1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium
The guideline to reduce to 1,500 mg doesn’t apply to people who lose big amounts of sodium in sweat, like competitive athletes, and workers exposed to major heat stress, such as foundry workers and fire fighters, or to those directed otherwise by their healthcare provider. If you have a medical conditions or other special diet needs or restrictions, you should follow the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.
How can I tell how much sodium I’m eating?
You can find the amount of sodium in your diet by looking at the Nutrition Facts label.
Here are sodium-related terms you may see on food packages:
- Sodium-free – Less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving and contains no sodium chloride
- Very low sodium – 35 milligrams or less per serving
- Low sodium – 140 milligrams or less per serving
- Reduced (or less) sodium – At least 25 percent less sodium per serving than the usual sodium level
- Light (for sodium-reduced products – If the food is “low calorie” and “low fat” and sodium is reduced by at least 50 percent per serving
- Light in sodium – If sodium is reduced by at least 50 percent per serving
Is there such a thing as eating too little sodium?
The body needs only a small amount of sodium (less than 500 milligrams per day) to function properly. That’s a mere smidgen — the amount in less than ¼ teaspoon. Practically no one in this country even comes close to eating less than that amount. Plus, healthy kidneys are great at retaining the sodium that our bodies need.
There’s no reliable evidence that a diet of eating less than 1,500 mg per day of sodium is a risk for the general population. There is some evidence that this may be harmful to certain patients with congestive heart failure, but those people make up only a small part of the population.
(Source: American Heart Association)
It’s important to understand the risks involved with certain food choices that each individual may make. However, it’s not just about the diet.
Lowering your sodium intake may not necessarily guarantee you will be equipped to avoid a serious heart disease. Being equipped with the skills to help someone whose heart suddenly stops is very important and can save a life. Age is just a number. CPR123 is the nationally trusted training center that can help you help others and yourself.