Getting Salty on Sodium: July 31, 2014

Americans have enjoyed a long-standing love affair with salt. Karen Mars is no exception.

“Well if I’m going to snack it’s usually with salted nuts, or granola that has salted nuts in it. I do enjoy that,” says Mars.

If you use salt to spice up your diet, be prepared. The FDA wants to downsize your sodium intake.

“We always preach sodium restriction to people with high blood pressure. We know reducing sodium intake helps the blood pressure,” says Dr. Brian Taschner, who is a cardiologist for Lee Memorial Health System.

He counsels patients about overdoing it.

“The recommendations are to be consuming less than 2,300 mg a day for most people. And people who have vascular disease, kidney disease they want you under 1,500 mg. So you are going to go over that level pretty quickly if you eat out,” says Dr. Taschner.

Most of our sodium isn’t coming from the salt shaker; it’s hidden inside processed foods and restaurant meals. Some of the saltiest foods: pizza, hamburgers, cured meats, soups and bread.

“We have expectations what food is going to taste like and sodium is a large part of that,” says Dr. Taschner.

“At restaurants I will taste first, but I add salt,” says Mars.

The next challenge may be to change tastes and minds, as a new standard dashes the plans of seasoned fans.