Processed foods – not salt shakers – accounts for 75 to 80 percent of our daily salt consumption according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study states that “large declines” in cardiovascular disease would result simply by reducing the amount of processed foods in our diet.
Limiting salt from processed foods would have similar effects of quitting smoking, lowering body weight and reducing cholesterol. According to the study, heart disease and stroke could be expected to decline as much as 11 percent by this simple lifestyle modification.
Top 5 Salty Foods
The amount of salt that one consumes without knowing is shocking. One could be placed in significant harm without looking and understanding the contents of their favorite food choices. We must become smart consumers to reduce our risk.
Soy Sauce & Salad Dressings
It is very common to flavor our healthy food choices with less than ideal add-ons. Both soy sauce and salad dressings have a high amount of salt. The primary reason that food companies add salt is to help preserve the food and extend the shelf life of the product.
You can make your own soy sauce naturally with less salt, preservatives and other dangerous chemicals such as MSG. Try a splash of olive oil and/or vinegar to dress up your salad without salad dressing.
Bacon, Sausage & Sandwich Meats
Research suggests that eating processed meats such as bacon, ham and sausage can increase the risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. The Harvard School of Public Health surveyed several studies and found a 42 percent higher risk heart disease and a 19 percent increased risk of diabetes from consuming processed meats.
The British Journal of Cancer found that eating processed meat increased the risk of the most deadly form of cancer – pancreatic cancer. The risk increased by 19 percent for every 50g someone added to their daily diet.
Processed food choices that are laced with salt are a favorite in the high paced, go-go society that we live in. Children are at the greatest risk of eating too much junk food. Childhood obesity is occurring at alarming rates throughout the world and snack foods have been found to be a major culprit.
Instead of eating processed snack foods, try convenient real food. Fresh, in-season fruit make great snacks. They are sweet and full of vitamins and essential nutrients. Most fruits have zero salt.
Adding unsalted nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, pecans and pistachios will provide your body with healthy fatty acids which will help boost one’s immune system, energy and encourage healthy weight loss. Try adding nuts to yogurt. Greek yogurt is low in sugar and this superfood will help promote healthy digestion and naturally lower blood pressure.
It is very common to pickle certain meats and vegetables such as carrots, cucumbers, cabbage and onions. Pickling may be done out of necessity, convenience or preference. The pickling process can affect the nutritional value of the food by stripping it of its natural nutrients and replacing it with salt.
Several studies have linked the excessive consumption of pickled foods to high blood pressure and poor cardiovascular health. The best recommendation is to eat vegetables in their natural state.
Soups, Broths & Gravies
Soups are one of the worst culprits for hidden salt. Certain brands have as much as half of the recommended daily intake per serving. The size of the can of soup matters as it can account for several servings.
Processed foods seem to be convenient but pack a harmful punch. Eat foods as close to their natural state and take the time to prepare healthy meals.
This column is directed by your questions, comments and inquiries. The health advice provided is in collaboration with the World Health Organisation's and the International Diabetes Federation’s goals of prevention, maintenance and natural treatment of disease. The advice is for educational purposes and does not necessarily reflect endorsement.
Dr. Cory Couillard is an international healthcare speaker and columnist for numerous newspapers, magazines, websites and publications throughout the world. He works in collaboration with the World Health Organization's goals of disease prevention and global healthcare education. Views do not necessarily reflect endorsement.
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