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Whether it's sea salt or table salt, you should shake the salt habit

Trendy sea salt may be natural, but it's not more healthy

MAYWOOD, Ill. (May 13, 2014) – Pink Himalayan, Breton Gray and Hawaiian Alea – the newer offerings for salt may sound exotic, cost more and turn up on the shelves of high-end stores, but they are just as bad for you as common table salt.

“Typically people opt for natural vs. processed to avoid preservatives such as sodium, but in this case, all salt is sodium,” said Ashley Barrient, a clinical dietitian at the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care. “Sea salt and table salt have an equivalent sodium content despite sea salt being deemed less processed than table salt due to the way it is produced."

Barrient said many healthy adults may think monitoring or lowering salt content doesn’t apply to them, but they should rethink this.

“Many of us have a genetic predisposition for certain diseases or conditions,” she said. “Lowering our sodium intake along with other positive dietary and lifestyle factors can be a proactive measure to prevent or delay the onset of certain conditions and improve management of such conditions long term.” Chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, congestive heart failure and osteoporosis are a few of the conditions that are worsened by high sodium intake.

The body requires a small amount of sodium in the diet to control blood pressure and blood volume, but most individuals are not at risk of consuming a diet that is too low in sodium.  “From a health standpoint, sea salt and table salt should both be minimized and reserved for small indulgences here and there,” Barrient said.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2010 recommends Americans age 2 and up limit sodium to 2,300 mg per day, which is equal to 1 teaspoon of salt.

“I recommend to my patients that they consume less than 600 mg of sodium per meal and less than 500 mg sodium total from all snacks throughout the day,” she said. “If you are older than 51, African-American or have a diagnosis such as diabetes or hypertension, the most recent version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010) recommends reducing sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day."

Barrient counsels Loyola weight-loss patients on their diet and nutritional intake.   From a weight-loss perspective, a high sodium diet can promote fluid retention in individuals with certain medical conditions thus making it more challenging to achieve a desired weight loss.

“When counseling patients within a bariatric/weight-loss specialty, sodium intake is one of many possible contributing factors I investigate if an individual is experiencing weight regain or a weight-loss plateau,” she said.

Barrient said that many packaged and prepared foods have a large amount of sodium.
“The more we cook at home, use fresh herbs and spices as opposed to processed foods, and visit farmers markets to buy fresh ingredients, the lower our sodium intake will be as a whole,” Barrient said.

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

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Stasia Thompson
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