Pass on Salt

September 11, 2017

MBI/ALAMY

Pizza and French fries taste good. The trouble is, U.S. kids are eating way too many salty foods like these.

The salt we add to food is about 40% sodium. Our bodies need some sodium. But too much is not healthy.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) works to protect people’s health. It studied the eating habits of more than 2,000 kids. It found that kids eat about 1½ teaspoons of sodium each day. That is almost double the amount they should have.

This worries Zerleen Quader. She works for the CDC. “Eating too much sodium now can set kids up for health problems later,” she told TFK.

Take Heart

EKATERINA MINAEVA—ALAMY

More than half the sodium kids eat comes from packaged foods. Much of the sodium is in unlikely places. (See “Rethink Lunch.”)

Eating too much salt can raise blood pressure. That can lead to heart problems. One in nine children has raised blood pressure.

NICO KAI—GETTY IMAGES

How can you cut back on salt? Quader says to smart small. Read food labels. Pick items that have less sodium. “It’s surprising how much the sodium content for the same food can vary by brand,” she says.

Bridget Murphy is a nutrition expert. She says kids should try adding spices to food instead of salt. Eating more fruits and vegetables also helps. So does eating fewer store-bought and restaurant foods. Try it. Your heart will thank you.

Rethink Lunch

GETTY IMAGES

A turkey sandwich has more than 1,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium. What happens when you add a teaspoon of mustard? The total rises to more than 1,500 mg. Kids ages 9 to 13 should get no more than 2,200 mg of sodium each day.

For good health, look for foods with low or no sodium.