How many airline crashes per year would we allow before we demanded safety? This may seem like a silly question and yet the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPIT) stated last Thursday at a public hearing at the FDA that cutting the salt content in restaurant and processed foods could save up to 150,000 lives annually by reducing heart related diseases. Hmm, that’s a lot of lives. Let’s say for argument’s sake maybe the number is ramped up so let’s cut it in half. Can we turn our backs on 75,000 deaths per year?
Many public health advocates are seeing the big picture and calling for tighter restrictions on salt content in food. See, we buy what tastes good, adding sodium to fast foods, processed sauces, restaurant items, even “healthy” frozen meals, enhances flavor and we like them better. Our taste buds are trained in true “American style.” We like lots of flavor and that’s what we buy. Some of us have forgotten what an avocado or cucumber really tastes like. We may have stopped cooking with fresh dill, parsley or basil because we forget to keep them on hand. But we place our votes with our dollars and food gets saltier all the time. Before you know it, you’ve purchased a meal with 2,200 mg. of sodium! That’s about what’s in a teaspoon of table salt or all you need for an entire day.
Some experts believe our western diet has four or five times more sodium than we actually need.
Sodium is an essential micronutrient and helps to regulate the body’s fluid balance, a big job considering you are mostly made of water. Too much salt is retained in the tissues and causes edema or swelling. You may notice your wedding ring gets tighter, ankles swell, or an obvious and unpleasant tell tale sign of too much salt intake is puffiness around the eyes. These symptoms are noticeable where as heart disease sets in quietly. Watch for these signals and practice putting down the salt shaker. Your heart is worth protecting.
A word to those who are sodium deficient: Wait, never mind, that would be a hard person to find in our society.
Maybe rather than wait for the FDA to call foul on the sodium content of food, we can monitor ourselves and ease up on the salt. This might be your chance to get off the jet that’s going down.
I’ll see you in two weeks,
Love and health, Loa
LOA BLASUCCI is a certified sports nutritionist, personal trainer and fitness instructor. She is currently teaching her mind and body sculpting class at the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge.