Salt: The Silent Killer

Salt, also known as table salt, kitchen salt, or rock salt, is a mineral made up of 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride (1 gm of sodium is equal 2.5 gm of salt). Salt is essential to our life and we cannot live without it. Sodium is necessary for the movement of electrical charges in the nerves that move our muscles, helps us to regulate the blood’s water content, and serves to balance the acids and bases in the blood. Too little salt in the diet (less than 180 mg of sodium a day) can lead to dizziness, muscle cramps, electrolyte disturbance, certain neurological problems, and death. Too much salt in the diet (more than 500 mg of sodium a day) can lead to hypertension (elevated blood pressure), which is a major risk factor for a heart attack and stroke (cardiovascular and cerebravascular diseases are the first and third leading cause of death in the United States, respectively). Increasing evidence also suggests that the excessive sodium consumption contributes to gastro-esophageal cancer, left ventricular hypertrophy (cardiac enlargement) with heart failure, renal (kidney) disease, loss of bone mass, and edema (fluid retention).

It is estimated that one in three Americans will develop high blood pressure due to a high-sodium consumption, all because more than 95 percent of children and adolescents in America eat too much salt, putting them at greater risk for cardiovascular and cerebravascular diseases as they get older. The Institute of Medicine recommends 1500 mg of sodium per day as the Adequate Intake level and advises everyone to limit sodium intake to less than 2300 mg per day (the amount of sodium in 1 teaspoon of salt), so-called the Tolerable Upper Limit. In the meantime, the average daily sodium intake for Americans age 2 years and older is 3,500 mg, while most Americans consume 8,000 to 10,000 mg of salt a day.

Surprisingly, we are responsible for only 10 percent of the sodium intake (5% come during the cooking and 5% come from salt added at the table). Another 10 percent come from food that has natural sodium already in […]

By |June 19th, 2013|Categories: Food Addiction||Comments Off

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

We are in love with sugar! In 1770, when sugar was only for the wealthy, the average American ate just 4 pounds of sugar a year. In 1800, we were consuming 18 pounds of sugar a year. By 1900 that number had risen to 90 pounds per year, and in 2012, the average American consumed 168 pounds of sugar a year. The sugar consumption continues escalating exponentially. The recent U.S. Department of Agriculture report revealed that more than half of Americans consume a half pound of sugar daily (that’s shocking 180 pounds of sugar per year!) and an overwhelming 87 percent of U.S. citizens who participated in the five-year, $200 million study, would prefer to ingest a far greater amount (I wonder how we survived the first 200,000 years on the Earth before we invented processed sugar).

Today the average American adult consumes an average of 22 teaspoons of sugar every day (93 gm), the average American child consumes over 32 teaspoons of sugar a day (135 gm), and the average teenage male now consumes more than 42 teaspoons of sugar per day (180 gm). More than half of Americans consume 53 teaspoons of sugar a day (225 gm). For optimal health, adult women should get no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar each day (25 gm), while men should stay under 9 teaspoons (38 gm). That means, on average, that American adults and children consume between 68 and 100 grams of sugar a day over the recommended allowance!

Added sugar is the most popular ingredient added to foods in the US and found in the wide variety of sweetened foods on grocery store shelves. It comes in the form of soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, sweets like ice cream, chocolate and candy, baked treats such as cakes, cookies and doughnuts, packaged snacks, cereals, crackers, breads, peanut butter, cured meats, soups, yogurt, sauces, salad dressings, etc, etc, etc. Even condiments have added sugar (one third of ketchup is sugar). Almost all processed foods contain sugar. Ironically, 50 percent of the sugar we consume today comes […]

By |November 5th, 2012|Categories: Food Addiction, Wellness||Comments Off