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This Is What Happens If You Eat Too Much Salt, According To Nutritionists
Nutrition Advice

This Is What Happens If You Eat Too Much Salt, According To Nutritionists 

If you鈥檙e like me, you try your best to eat a healthy, whole foods-based diet, which includes whole-grain bread (because聽avocado聽toast is life), frozen meals here and there (some of them are organic!), and sushi Fridays (salmon rolls, FTW).

But even though I鈥檓 packing in all the good stuff into my diet 鈥 like fruits and veggies and lean proteins 鈥 I鈥檓 probably eating way too much salt. Most people are. The recommended intake is 1,500 mg per day, but most people are consuming more than double that amount.

After a salty binge, you might feel 鈥 and look 鈥 like you went overboard on the stuff. Here鈥檚 what鈥檚 happening and how to fix it.

What are the signs you’ve eaten way too much salt?

One of sodium鈥檚 important roles in the body is to help balance fluids 鈥 but consume too much and you set yourself up for water retention. You know that “why-are-my-pants-suddenly-tighter?” feeling.

鈥淥ne of the biggest short-term consequences of eating a lot of sodium is bloating and puffiness,鈥 says Amy Gorin, dietician and owner of聽Amy Gorin Nutrition聽in the New York City area. She points out that your weight may even jump up a few grams the night after a sushi meal spent dunking your rolls in (super-salty) soy sauce.

What are some hints that your diet regularly features too much sodium?

It鈥檚 all about the longer-term consequences here. 鈥淓xcess sodium intake can put you at risk for a plethora of health problems,鈥 says Gorin. Frequent headaches or kidney stones are just a few examples. Over time, though, high blood pressure can be the most pronounced symptom 鈥 and it鈥檚 one that you should pay attention to, even if you consider yourself healthy. 鈥淗igh blood pressure is the leading cause of death for women in the United States,鈥 warns Gorin.

What can you do if you’ve eaten too much salt?

To bring your bod back in balance, hydrate with water. And eat foods that are good sources of聽potassium, a strategy that will help in the long-run when it comes to maintaining healthy blood pressure levels, says the聽Centers for Disease Control and Prevention聽(CDC).聽Potassium聽acts as an opposing force to sodium, and lowers your blood pressure.

That doesn鈥檛 mean plying yourself with bananas or watermelon 鈥 though both offer stellar sources of the mineral 鈥 but simply planning to eat more produce (of whatever variety you鈥檙e feeling that day). And commit to cooking your next meal at home. As Gorin points out, just 11 percent of the sodium you eat in the day comes from the salt shaker. Now鈥檚 the time to make that聽healthy recipe聽you鈥檝e been wanting to try from your fave IG-er.

What are some smart ways to cut back on salt?

The good news here is that you鈥檙e not going to have to stress about counting every milligram of sodium 鈥 or eat bland food. The truth is that sodium is something that your body needs for聽proper muscle and nerve function聽and it鈥檚 also a seasoning that boosts the flavour of foods. (It鈥檚 what makes those Brussels sprouts to-die-for, after all.)

But it鈥檚 not the only way to make meals tasty. When cooking, Gorin recommends turning to other high-flavour seasonings, like garlic and onion powder, and bringing the heat with cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes if you like things spicy. Lemon juice and vinegars will add brightness to foods without salt.

When you鈥檙e at a restaurant, you鈥檙e probably going to have a meal higher in salt 鈥 even if you order well. 鈥淚f you order the fish and fresh veggies at a restaurant, you can bet the chef is adding more salt than you鈥檇 add if you were cooking at home,鈥 Gorin says. When you鈥檙e out, she recommends asking that the chef go light on the added salt and ask for sauces on the side, which you can then use to taste.

Finally, eat fresh food when you can.聽The CDC聽points out that more than 40 percent of the sodium consumed each day comes from 10 types of food, including breads, pizza, soups, bagged snacks (like pretzels or crackers), and聽cheese. (Heck, a single sandwich can easily exceed 1,500 mg of sodium, they point out.) Many of these foods are of the ultra-processed variety that nutrition experts advise limiting anyway.

Convenience foods are also awesome when you come home from work and want to practically gnaw your arm off. But even organic frozen meals can pack in more than 700 mg of sodium. She advises looking for the low-sodium varieties, which are just as tasty and satisfying.

And no matter what foods you buy, read the labels to understand how much you鈥檙e getting, says Gorin. Your heart (and jeans) will thank you tomorrow.

This article was originally published on Weight Loss.

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