Salty foods make obese teens age faster

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

salty fries
Next time you want to grab some salty fries from a fast food joint, think about how much your cells are going to age from the sodium!

While sugar and calories have a bad reputation for making you obese, you should also be equally aware of how much sodium (salt) there is in food. Not only can too much salt make your body dehydrated (lacking water), it also holds onto that H20 to make you look fatter. To make matters worse, a recent study found that overweight teenagers who consume too much salt have cells that are aging faster.

The research team examined what happened to obese teens who consumed either less than 2,400 milligrams (mg) or more than 4,100 mg.  Since the American Heart Association recommends no more than 1,500 mg of salt a day,  you can bet the results weren’t pretty. When scientists took a look at the participants’ telomeres, tiny protective parts of our cells that act like shoelaces to keep them nice and tight, the sodium apparently was making them shorter. Imagine trying to keep your shoes looking new and shiny with laces that are too short!

Whereas telomeres naturally become shorter as we age, making our body weaker, so too can salt-reduced telomeres lower the strength of our cells. In fact, salty foods can be as bad as smoking or physical inactivity in shortening the “shoelaces” that keep our cells looking tight and young. So, next time you look at that food label or you’re at a restaurant, be sure to check the sodium content. It’s as important as knowing how many calories, fat, and sugar is in your food!

Featured image courtesy of punctuated on Flickr. Image of salty fries courtesy of Karyn Christner on Flickr.