What You Need to Know Before You Add Salt to Your Food

by on January 19th, 2011
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According to Medill reports of Chicago, 9 out of 10 Americans are consuming way too much salt/sodium. This number has nearly doubled since 2008, when 50% of us were over indulging. Around 150,000 deaths a year could be prevented with a simple low-sodium diet. High blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease can result from high sodium diets

How Much is Too Much?
How much should we be consuming? Less than 2,300 mg daily. This is slightly less than one tablespoon. The real problem is that this can easily be surpassed before you ever add any additional salt to a dish to increase flavor. If you have children you should really be concerned. Over 10% of American children have high blood pressure. They eat what you eat, and dietary habits formed early in life tend to last for the rest of your life. They are developing their taste for food based on what you feed them.

Where is it Coming From?
Chances are, you don’t realize just how much sodium is in your diet. Salt can sneak in your meals in some pretty unexpected ways. Bread, cheese, salad dressing, and ketchup are foods we don’t think twice about, but they can really pack a punch in the sodium department. As a rule of thumb, if the food was canned, jarred, frozen, bagged, or from a drive through-it probably has a lot of salt. If any of the following are listed in the ingredients, it defiantly has a lot of salt: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), Disodium Phosphate, Nitrate, Sodium Alginate, Baking Soda, or Baking Powder.

What Can I Do?
Some tips for cutting down the salt? Start off by adding more potassium to your diet. Foods like bananas and broccoli are high in the salt antagonist. Potassium works to counter act salt, so this will help your body start to get used to using less salt. You can season with many other things as well. Herbs and spices, fruit juices, and chopped fruit can add some panache to a boring meal.

The upside is this: after a few weeks you won’t miss the salt. If you stop adding salt to your food, and control your sodium sources in other forms, you won’t want the salt shaker! Take it from someone who knows, if you remove something you over-consume from your diet your body will readjust to the new flavor pallet. I have accomplished this by cutting down both salt and sugar. Now, if something has a little of either one I can really tell! You regain your ‘that’s too salty’ sensor once you stop overindulging. This is a benefit to you, as you learn what your body wants or needs to consume.

Consider these facts the next time you ask for a salt packet or reach for your salt shaker. Do you really need that extra sprinkle? Will it really improve the taste that much? One idea to break the habit: empty your salt shaker. When you mindlessly go to sprinkle your food you won’t have any result.


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