Sea Salt Better Than Table Salt? What Do You Think, Dummy?

A recent survey conducted by the American Heart Association (AHA) proves that Americans need more nutritional information, regardless of the protesting by food companies, movie theater companies, and certain members of our government.

For the most part, Americans tend to be pretty ignorant about nutrition. For example, a majority of the 1,000 adults surveyed believe sea salt is a low-sodium alternative to regular table salt. A majority of the respondents reported knowing that drinking wine provides health benefits, but only 30 percent of them know the AHA's recommended limits for daily intake.

The key to everything is moderation. And there might be some good news for those who prefer whiskey to wine or malt to Merlot. "People that tend to drink a little every day seem to have better cardiovascular health. This has been indicated in observational studies," says AHA spokesman Dr. Gerald Fletcher, who is also a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Jacksonville.

A general rule is eight ounces of wine for men and four ounces for women. "The problem is that people in bars don't measure ounces," Fletcher jokes.

He further explains that alcohol affects each person differently. "Look at Hemingway. He was an alcoholic, a drunk. He started the day by drinking. But he produced beautifully. Then there are some people who can't drink at all. What we're saying is don't drink too much and don't drink and drive."

Again, moderation. "This survey shows that we need to do a better job of educating people about the health risks of overconsumption of wine," Fletcher says. "But salt intake is much more important."

Americans don't even know where the majority of the salt in their diet comes from. It is not, as most people think, from table salt. Seventy-five percent of the sodium ingested in your average American diet comes from processed foods, such as canned foods and condiments.

Fletcher says in order to reduce and control our sodium intake, we should eat more fresh food and less processed food, look at labels, and not add salt to our food.

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