The general guideline for sodium intake among adults is to lower consumption to lower risk of hypertension and stroke, according to the American Heart Association and the 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines.
But do the same rules apply to children? Does sodium pose the same risk for children and adolescents as adults?
Although there is far less research on children than on adults, some observational studies have shown an association between high sodium intake and elevated blood pressure in children, according to Today's Dietitian.
Studies have found that sodium reduction in children and adolescents is associated with small reductions in either systolic or diastolic blood pressure in the range of 1 to 3 mm Hg. However, other studies have found no blood pressure reduction with sodium restriction in children.
It's tricky because sodium is an essential nutrient for both children and adults, working to maintain an adequate volume in the circulatory system and transporting molecules across cell membranes.
The results of a recent study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that almost 90 percent of school-age children exceeded the upper level of sodium recommended for their age group (1,900 mg to 2,300 mg per day). The study found the average intake was 3,256 mg per day, not including added salt at the table. Only 10 types of foods made up almost 50 percent of kids' sodium intake, including pizza, Mexican mixed dishes, sandwiches (including burgers), breads, cold cuts, soups, savory snacks, cheese, plain milk and poultry.
In addition, the study found that foods obtained from stores contributed 58 percent of sodium intake, fast food/pizza restaurants contributed 16 percent and school cafeterias contributed 10 percent.
Should kids' sodium intake be limited?
Study authors say yes. It's especially important to reduce sodium consumption among children because taste preferences formed in childhood can influence food choices in adulthood.
Parents should read the labels of anything that comes in a bag, box or jar. Look for products that contain fewer than 140 to 200 mg of sodium per serving and aim for having only one product at each meal that comes from a bag, box or jar.
Q and A
Q: Are eggs good for you?
A: Eating up to one egg a day has been shown to have no association with heart disease, yet it may reduce risk of stroke by 12 percent, research shows. The meta-analysis, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, included studies between 1982 and 2015 that focused on the relationship between egg intake and heart disease (276,00 people) and stroke (308,000 people). One large egg boasts 6 grams of high quality protein and antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, found within the egg yolk, as well as vitamins E, D and A. The bottom line? An egg a day may reduce stroke risk. -- Environmental Nutrition (March 2017).
Here's a whole grain muffin recipe from Cooking Light magazine that you can mix in a variety of add-ins. These are whole grain but still tender and low sugar yet still sweet.
Browned Butter Whole-wheat Muffins
6 ounces whole-wheat flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup wheat bran
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 medium-ripe banana, mashed (about 1/2 cup)
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups. Combine flour, wheat bran, and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium; cook 90 seconds or until browned and fragrant, swirling pan frequently. Combine butter, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, banana and egg in a bowl. Add yogurt mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combine. Divide batter evenly among 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 22 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 12 muffins.
Per muffin: 132 calories, 4 g protein, 24 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat, 22 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 242 mg sodium.
Note: For Cherry-Gingerbread Muffins, add 1/2 cup chopped dried cherries, 1/3 cup molasses, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice to muffin batter.
For Cranberry, Orange and Pistachio Muffins, add 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1/2 cup chopped unsalted pistachios, 1 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind and 1/4 cup fresh orange juice to muffin batter.
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