Healthy Tips

May 9, 2017

Escape the Salt Trap

Escape the Salt Trap

Escape the Salt Trap

How does a salad with Italian dressing, pasta with Alfredo sauce, and ham at an all you eat buffet sound?

If you eat those foods regularly then you also need to ask yourself how the following sound – coronary artery disease, heart failure, cardiomyopathy, peripheral artery disease, stroke, and kidney disease.

What do those foods have in common?

High sodium (salt).

What do those health conditions have in common?

High blood pressure.

High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, but it can cause serious problems such as stroke, heart failure, heart attack, and kidney failure.

You can control high blood pressure through healthy lifestyle habits like exercising regularly, following the DASH diet, and taking medicines, if needed.

Another thing you can do to help lower your blood pressure is to reduce the amount of salt in your diet. Most people in the U.S. get more salt in their diets than they need. A key to healthy eating is choosing foods low in salt. Doctors recommend you eat less than 2.4 grams per day. That equals about 1 teaspoon of table salt a day.

Many people think that most of the sodium we consume comes from the saltshaker. However, only 6 percent of the sodium that Americans consume comes from salt added at the table. Only 5 percent is added during cooking at home.

Even if you don’t add salt to your food, you still may be consuming too much sodium. How can that be? More than three-quarters of the sodium in the average American diet comes from processed foods – a total of 77 percent.

“Processed” generally refers to food that is not eaten directly from the source, such as a plant or animal. The top ten sources of sodium in food are as follows.

  • Breads and rolls
  • Cold cuts and cured meats, such as deli or packaged ham and turkey
  • Pizza
  • Fresh and processed chicken and turkey
  • Soups
  • Sandwiches, including burgers
  • Cheese
  • Pasta dishes with sauce
  • Snacks, such as chips, pretzels, and popcorn


Now let’s go back to that all you can eat buffet. For lower salt options choose Ranch dressing over Italian, marinara sauce over Alfredo sauce, and turkey breast over ham.

Since all of the “healthier” choices are still high in sodium, the healthiest choice is to cook your meals at home.

Books like Eat Less Salt: An Easy Action Plan for Finding and Reducing the Sodium Hidden in Your Diet and the Low-Salt Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Reducing Sodium and Fat in Your Diet can help you learn more about sodium content and how to cook with less salt at home.

These books and many others can be checked out free of charge at the Health Information Center located in the main lobby of the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

If you don't have a doctor and would like help finding one, call Healthcare Coordination to make an appointment.

For reliable information on how to take better care of your health or a loved one’s health – or, on any health related topic – contact the Health Information Center. Staffed by medical librarians and certified health information specialists, the Health Information Center offers an extensive health library, digital and print resources, walk-in assistance, and help with research on specific health conditions – all free of charge and available to the public.

This healthy tip is provided by the Health Information Center at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.