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Sodium now linked to further maladies

July 27, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
More bad news for salt lovers: Your heart isn't the only thing sensitive to salt. It can lead to many dangerous conditions. Many of us are taking in high levels of salt and don't even know it.

It seems everything you pick off grocery store shelves has too much salt in it. The recommended daily allowance for sodium keeps dropping, but consumers aren't listening.

We all know too much sodium is bad for our hearts, but it's also bad for just about every other part of our bodies.

A little here, a little there: Salt permeates the food we eat. In the last year, many agencies recommended lowering the daily allowance for sodium to just 1,500 milligrams per day. That's equal to just a teaspoon, so beware of foods with sneaky salt.

For instance, a slice of Kraft Singles cheese contains 277 milligrams of salt. Two slices of Pepperidge Farm pumpernickel bread equals 380 milligrams.

A tablespoon of Heinz ketchup has 190 milligrams. Campbell's chicken noodle soup has a whopping 940 milligrams per serving. Even Kellogg's Raisin Bran has 350 milligrams per serving.

"Even foods that taste sweet that you might not think have salt have a high degree of sodium," said food researcher Alanna Morrison.

We know it's bad for the heart, but sodium is now also linked to kidney disease, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes and dementia.

No salt doesn't mean no flavor.

Chef Jamie Zelko gets tasty food by blending flavors. Low-salt white fish gets a boost with white asparagus and a tomato-pineapple marmalade.

"I just added a little salt to the marmalade and that's it. Very clean, fresh flavors," said Zelko.

And here's good news: Government agencies are now asking manufacturers to lower sodium in their foods.

"The American Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control are on board; Institute of Medicine. They can't ignore that, so I think they're going to have to do something," said Morrison.

Before we all face salt-overload.

Recognizing the demand, some food manufacturers have already started to reduce the sodium levels in their foods.

Morrison says restricting salt intake will get easier. She says it just takes a couple of weeks to reduce your craving for salt.

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