Pregnancy Nutrition

Salt

There was a time when pregnant women were told to strongly limit or eliminate their salt intake. The theory was the salt caused swelling, which was the first visible sign a woman was pre-eclamptic, so by limiting the salt you could prevent the disease. It was a great theory, but highly flawed. The excessive swelling of pre-eclampsia was caused by the disease, not the cause of it. In fact, severely limiting your salt intake during pregnancy can cause worse swelling. When you do not get enough salt, you body tries to conserve its sodium and water causing the swelling to increase.

Your salt intake should remain normal during pregnancy, but do nt be excessive just because you are pregnant. Excessive salt intake is linked to high blood pressure and weakens your circulatory system making you a prime heart attack candidate. In addition, new research is finding excessive salt intake may increase your bone loss and can worsen lung function in some types of asthma. If you are concerned about what "normal" should be, it is about one teaspoon per day. When trying to determine the amount of salt you eat, look beyond what you add at the table. Most of the salt you add to food happens during the cooking - so be aware of how much salt you add to the total recipe, then break it down by servings and add up how much you eat.

The recommended upper limit for healthy adults is 2,300 mg per day, but cutting salt out of your cooking may not bring your salt intake down to "normal" levels. As much as 80% of the salt you eat every day may be coming from junk foods, the processed foods you prepare at home and the foods you eat at restaurants. Check the nutrition information on the foods you frequently eat to determine how much salt they contain. If you are eating a healthy diet of non-processed foods you prepare at home, you should find this limit is right about the amount of salt you need to make your foods "taste" right to you.