Watching your salt intake

Easter is this Sunday, and for many of us, we will be enjoying ham or other salty treats. According to a recent study out of Harvard, we may be getting way to much salt! Dr. Puckett breaks it down for us.

Whatâ??s Your Take?

· The Harvard study looked to link excessive salt consumption to heart deaths, and they found 1:10 Americans die from excessive salt each year.

· Like all studies, there were some major limitations. There isnâ??t a good population of low salt eaters to compare too, to use as controls.

· Also, there are many things that contribute to heart problems, and salt is certainly one of them

So should we get the salt shaker off the table?

· We actually get very little salt from the shaker. Most of our salt intake comes for packaged or prepared food.

· The average American eats out 5 times per week, which is a big increase from a few decades ago. Generally speaking, restaurant food is often packed with salt. Also, when we buy many packaged food, they contain added salt, to help with flavor and as a preservative.

· Some meals while eating out have an entire weeks worth of salt in one dish

· Salt is everywhere, even things like bread and cheeses contain a large amount of salt.

So why is salt bad for us?

· It raises blood pressure which is also a cause for heart problems

· In people with any existing heart failure, the salt can lead to water retention and acute heart failure, which strains the heart and can lead directly to death.

Is Sea Salt better for us, I heard it is more natural?

· Salt is salt, while it may be less refined, it is really no better for you from a heart perspective. Some people think since it is generally larger granules that we use less overall, but no steady has really proven that to be the case?

How much salt should we eat and how much do most of us get?

· Around 1500 mg is recommended for the average adult, this is less than 1 teaspoon of salt

What can we do to decrease or avoid salt?

· Look up online, or ask at the restaurant, to see nutritional facts, and look for the sodium amount

· Use other non-salt ways to provide flavor like herbs or other seasonings to flavor. Try a pinch of a lemon, or use a salt substitute (like NuSalt) but some people have to be careful of the added potassium, so be sure and ask your healthcare provider first.

Dr. Jusin Puckett, D.O.

Complete Family Medicine

1611 S. Baltimore

Kirksville, Mo. 63501