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Why Should I Eat Less Sugar and Salt?

By Janet Renee

The U.S. Department of Agriculture releases guidelines to provide you with information so you can make healthy food choices. These guidelines outline the food components that Americans need to cut back on, which include sugar and salt. Consuming too much sugar or salt increases your risk for chronic diseases, according to the USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. Reducing your intake improves your overall diet and reduces your risk of chronic conditions, making it crucial that you take steps to reduce your intake of sugar and salt.

You're Likely Consuming Too Much

Nearly all Americans consume too much sodium, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. It's estimated that the average consumption is 3,400 milligrams daily, but the recommended limit is 2,300 milligrams. When it comes to sugar, most Americans get about 355 calories each day from the sweet stuff, which is more than double the recommended intake, according to the American Heart Association. It's recommended that you limit sugar to 100 calories for women and no more than 150 calories for men, according to the AHA.

Excess Salt Poses Heart Health Risk

Sodium is essential to your health, but your body only requires a small amount. Along with other electrolytes, sodium regulates fluid balance. Due to its physiological role, the salt in your diet affects your blood pressure. Typically, as your salt intake increases, so does your blood pressure. Stable blood pressure is crucial for cardiovascular health and consuming excess salt on a consistent basis increases your risk of getting heart disease.

Not So Sweet Health Effects

Most of the sugar in the typical American diet comes from refined sugar, not sugar found naturally in foods such as fruit, according to the USDA. Added sugars provide excess calories without any nutrients. This can lead to weight gain and obesity, which has a domino effect of increasing your risk for other chronic conditions. Eating too much sugar also increases triglycerides, which is a type of fat in your blood linked to heart disease.

Decreases Overall Nutrition

Foods high in salt and sugar tend to offer fewer nutrients than foods low in sugar and salt. Regularly eating foods with excess salt and sugar replaces nutrient-dense foods in your diet, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. So, it decreases the overall nutrient content of your diet. Having an unhealthy diet is a major risk factor for chronic diseases, making it critical for you to improve your eating habits.

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