New Government Food Guidelines
The government issued new diet guidelines this week. The latest guidelines for Americans are pretty much the same as previous years. Eat less trans fats, salt and sugar.
Not much really new. We all know that we should be eating whole foods.
What is different in the government recommendations this year is the amount of suggested sodium intake. The average American consumes up to three teaspoons of salt a day.
The new guidelines have reduced the recommended salt and sodium intake from 2300 to 1500 milligrams per day. That’s about a third less than the original recommendation, which we were already exceeding by two teaspoons.
About 80 percent of the salt we consume comes from processed foods. And, for most, 100 percent of the salt we consumed has been highly processed.
Angel thinks a hard-boiled egg is much tastier with salt.
I don’t know about you, but my head is spinning. Converting grams to teaspoons is a chore. I’m constantly getting confused. It’s hard enough to convert milligrams to teaspoons; add in the factor that common table salt is a mixture of sodium chloride and other ingredients and it gets really perplexing.
This answer online was one even I could understand: “Common table salt has a density of about 5 grams per teaspoon. But that does not convert directly to the sodium found in processed food. Common table salt is sodium chloride mixed with iodine and other anti-caking substances. Multiply the grams of salt by 0.40 to get the approximate amount of sodium…1 teaspoon of table salt would be 5000 grams, which is about 2000 mg of sodium.”
Back to the latest sodium recommendation. Americans currently consume an average of 3400 milligrams of salt a day. Most of it comes from processed foods. We were nowhere near the former 2300 milligrams recommendation. Now the government says to restrict sodium intake further to 1500 milligrams.
Saltshaker or Not
I’m a simple person, who isn’t very good at math. All these numbers boil down to one thing for me: You’ll never have to count sodium content, if you cook at home using whole foods and use either sea or Himalayan salt.
The answer isn’t to give up the saltshaker, but to give up processed foods. Salt is essential for life — you cannot live without it. Today’s refined table salt has nothing in common with natural salt. Most people don’t realize there are enormous differences between the standard, refined table salt and natural health-promoting salt.
Table salt is actually 97.5 percent sodium chloride and 2.5 percent chemicals such as moisture absorbents and iodine. Most salt has been bleached and dried at over 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit (the excessive heat alters the natural chemical structure of the salt).
Sea salt isn’t bleached, but has been processed to some degree. Sea salt is made from sea water which has been evaporated in man-made pools. During processing high temperatures are used. There are 8 minerals found in sea salt, including iodine, manganese and potassium. Sea salt isn’t pure white. You’ll see dark mineral flecks in the salt. However, sea salt may also contain some contaminates found in the oceans.
Himalayan salt is known as rock salt and comes from Pakistan. It has 84 trace minerals and hasn’t been processed as it comes 99 percent pure from the mountain. Himalayan salt is reddish or pink, with some crystals having an off-white to transparent color.
It took me a while to switch to sea salt. And then a while longer to change to Himalayan salt, because sea salt is more affordable. As for most people, price is always a concern. It wasn’t until I factored in how much mineral supplements cost, that I began to understand what a bargain it is to purchase salt containing natural minerals.