American's Salt Obsession and Health Problems

Salt "Is Like Cocaine" to Your Taste Buds

Salty cravings run rampant in my house, so I can understand people's obsession with using this white stuff. The problem is, between overly salted processed foods and excessive dumping sprinkling, most Americans end up eating over a teaspoon and a half a day, which Time magazine reports as "more than double the 1,500 mg our bodies need." This line from the article just about sums up our salt obsession: "Like attention, praise and porn, salt is one of those instant gratifiers that are easy to get too much of and hard to get by without."

Salt is the ultimate spice since it enhances a food's flavor, and opens up our taste buds, which makes everything taste better. The reason so much salt is used is because there's no healthy and comparable salt substitute, like there is for sugar. But excessive sodium in the diet raises blood pressure, which puts a person at risk for heart attacks and stroke. Not to mention, consuming a lot of salt also taxes your kidneys, which increases your risk of kidney disease and stomach cancer.

Since only about 11 percent of a person's salt intake comes from a salt shaker that means we down the rest of our sodium from food that already contains it like the takeout we ordered from down the street and packaged foods from the grocery store. Many people just don't realize how high the sodium content is in common foods. Two slices of pepperoni pizza contain 1365 mg!

In April, a report by the Institute of Medicine called for "federal limits on sodium content in packaged and restaurant food." The FDA has yet to make any specific rules, but I'm wondering, does it make you feel better to know that mandatory sodium reduction could be on the horizon, or should food be left as is so people can make their own decisions about how much salt they consume?

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