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Nutrition News: Shake No More

Charlyn Fargo on

You probably know that extra salt isn't healthy. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Most of us get upwards of 3,300 milligrams per day. It's true that most of that sodium comes from processed foods like hot dogs, bacon, sausage, canned foods, condiments, cheese, pickles and chips.

However, a new study finds it's not just sodium from processed foods that's unhealthy. Using the saltshaker at the table can shorten our lives. We all have those family members who grab the saltshaker before they even taste the food set before them. It's a habit that accounts for 6% to 20% of total salt intake, according to study authors.

In the study, published in the European Heart Journal, a total of 501,379 participants from the UK Biobank study completed a questionnaire on the frequency of adding salt to foods before they ate them. Urine samples for sodium were collected at baseline and monitored after 24 hours. The information didn't include salt used in cooking, only adding salt at the table. Participants were followed for nine years. Researchers found 18,474 premature deaths.

They also found that eating more fruits and vegetables, which are typically high in potassium, helped reduce deaths. Death rates were higher in participants with low intakes of fruits and vegetables than in those with higher intakes.

Always adding salt to foods was related to 1.5 years lower life expectancy at age 50 years in women and 2.28 years lower life expectancy in men compared with participants who never or rarely added salt to foods.

The bottom line? Even reducing sodium by a small amount can be a healthy habit. Take the saltshaker off the table and eat more fruits and vegetables.

 

Q and A

Q: What are truffles?

A: Considered delicacies, truffles are the fruit of underground mushrooms that form a symbiotic relationship with the roots of certain trees, including oak, birch and hazel. Their strong smell attracts specially trained dogs and female truffle hogs used to hunt and harvest them. Their nutrient values vary among species and growing region, but edible fungi are known to contain calcium, potassium and magnesium and are a good source of digestible protein. Because they can be quite intense -- in flavor and price -- just a small amount makes a difference.

RECIPE

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