Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Salt Intake

From the desk of Michelle Maloney, CPNP

It is very likely your child consumes too much salt. Children should not have more than 2300 mg of salt daily, yet the average child takes in approximately 3400 mg daily. This the same amount the average adult consumes. 2300 mg is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of table salt.

What’s the big deal you ask? High Blood Pressure. Yes, hypertension is now a problem in children.  Children who consume the most sodium are 3.5 times as likely to have high or borderline high blood pressure.  This increase blood pressure also coincides with obese or overweight children who tend to eat more of the types of food that have more sodium. 

High sodium foods tend to come from fast foods and processed foods.

Let’s take a typical McDonald’s meal for example. A cheeseburger and small fry equals 880 mg of sodium. Add ketchup and pop in the mix and you’re almost at 1000 mg in 1 meal!

By comparison, if you make a chicken breast at home with fresh fruit or vegetables on the side with a glass of milk you are under 200 mg.

Salt is a preservative that allows food  to be stored for a period of time before the food is eaten.  When foods and meals are made fresh very little salt is consumed. 

There are many things you can do to decrease your families’ consumption of salt. Some examples include:

-Limit fast foods, but if eaten don’t add any extra salt.

-Limit convenience foods such as frozen all in one meals, boxed meals, instant or flavored rice/pasta. If you eat these try to get the reduced sodium variety.

-Limit use of salt in cooking, use other spices for flavor. Try a salt free seasoning blend.

-Rinse canned foods to decrease the amount of sodium, or buy the "no salt added" vegetable.

There are many things we can do to ensure our children grow up healthy. Limiting the amount of sodium in their daily diets should be one we can accomplish. Starting healthy habits when they are young translates to healthy adults.

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