You don't have to be perfect to be the perfect parent!

Hide that salt shaker, it makes a difference in your child’s health too!

Don’t train your child’s taste buds to crave salt!

Salt just got another bad rap with a study published regarding sodium intake and children’s blood pressure.   We Americans (including our children) eat way too much salt.  On average most of us consume 1 to 3 teaspoons of salt a day which is about 2,300 to 6,900 mg of sodium.  It is healthiest to stay below the 2,300 mg mark a day.  Most of this salt intake does not come from the salt shaker, but from processed foods.  Children require between 1200 and 1500 mg of sodium a day.  (Did you know that an Oscar Mayer Deluxe Ham and Swiss and Cheddar Lunchable has  930 mg of sodium?!)   It is very easy to get “hooked on salt” starting in childhood.  Our taste develops as a child, and often we get used to that salt taste, which is why many people complain that a low salt diet tastes bland.  So why is the salt habit not a good idea?

We have known that high sodium diets can affect blood pressure in adults.  Eating foods with a lot of sodium can cause your body to retain more fluid, increase volume and increase blood pressure.  High blood pressure results in more work for your heart, more stress on blood vessels and organs and can cause damage in the long run.  The study that was recently published found that higher salt intake in a child’s diet can result in an increase of blood pressure in a child too.  Every increase of  1000 mg of sodium a day increased the risk of high blood pressure in a child.  This was especially true for children who were overweight.  High blood pressure is often “silent” and we often don’t suspect it in children but the longer a person has untreated high blood pressure, the greater the risk to heart, blood vessels and organs in the long-term.

Your child should have his or her blood pressure checked routinely at well-child checks beginning at age 3.  Normal blood pressure changes as your child grows, ask what is “normal” for your child’s age and height.  Knowing your child’s blood pressure can eliminate the “silent” undiagnosed high blood pressure.  What can you do to decrease your child’s risk of high blood pressure?

  • Take the salt shaker off the table.  Do not add salt to foods.  Try to stay away from fast food, processed foods and canned foods.  Remember; don’t train those taste buds to crave salt!
  • Keep your child active.  Childhood obesity and high blood pressure go hand in hand.
  • Know your own blood pressure numbers and be sure you have your child’s checked too!

Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.


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