Salt is a basic mineral and an essential ingredient in many foods, but how do we know when we’re eating enough or too much of it? And what kind of salt is best? Is it the same thing as sodium? I had so many questions when I first started researching this ingredient!
There are so many types of salt so I’ll be focusing on dietary salt. I wasn’t even sure, what’s the difference between salt and sodium? Many manufacturers and most labels use the terms interchangeably. Technically, however, while there are many different kinds of salt, edible salt is mainly composed of sodium chloride. So sodium is just one of the two essential elements that salt contains.
Okay so we’re eating dietary salt, not just sodium. But which kind should I use at home, is sea salt better than table salt? What about iodized salt?
Some people go for sea salt because it’s not processed. We use either at home, depending on if we want the grainier texture in the food. Also, most table salt is iodized and that’s what is used as a food additive at most restaurants and manufacturing facilities. Frankly, most of our salt intake isn’t from the foods make at home, but from restaurants and processed foods. So chances are that you’re not about to have issues with an iodine deficiency anytime soon!
More than 90% of Americans daily consume more than the recommended maximum of 2,300 mg of sodium, and 40% of this comes from just ten basic foods.
To cut down on your salt intake you can reduce processed foods in your diet, especially the ones listed above. When consuming such foods, make sure to read labels and choose foods with fewer milligrams of sodium per serving. As you can see on the left, the amount of salt in packaged and processed foods can vary significantly between brands. For example, the sodium in chicken noodle soup can vary by 840 mg per cup.
Personally, I’ve always had an aversion to salty foods and barely use it in my own cooking. I wanted to figure out if there’s a minimum daily-recommended intake because I’ve been craving salt lately. I’ve stepped it up and have been using more in my cooking; I do want to listen to my body and hardly eat processed foods. Yet if anyone finds a minimum recommended sodium intake, or studies on this subject, please let me know!!
Eating too much salt isn’t just an American problem. Britain’s Food Standards Agency hired a comedian to help them publicize the issue. Here’s the video in case you’re interested in the British humour:
Here’s a starting place if you want to do more reading about sodium: