Tips For Reducing Salt In Your Diet

Tips For Reducing Salt In Your Diet

Tips For Reducing Salt In Your Diet

 

Tips For Reducing Salt In Your Diet

 

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Most people know that too much salt in your diet is a bad thing. What many don’t know is that controlling that intake is a far more complicated task than just setting aside the salt shaker.

 

If you eat processed foods — everything from canned goods to bread to breakfast cereals — you are ingesting far more salt than you think. Ditto if you dine out frequently.

 

The little girl with the umbrella on the Morton’s salt canister is a cute kid, but she spends way too much time sowing sodium in the nation’s kitchens.

 

“It’s very, very easy to exceed the amount of salt that constitutes a healthy level in your daily diet,” says Andrew Freeman, a doctor at National Jewish Health in Denver who is director of clinical cardiology at the facility.

 

Consider: The American Heart Association recommends that people take in no more than 1,500 milligrams of salt per day. The United States Department of Agriculture is a bit looser, but still sets 2,300 mgs per day as the cap. That’s about the equivalent of a teaspoon of table salt.

 

Anything beyond that and you risk courting high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and other problems.

 

But here is what we are up against: Salt, which is sodium chloride, is everywhere in the foods we tend to buy. Two slices of bread contain about 400-600 mgs of sodium. A bowl of cereal can contain 600 mgs of sodium, and a can of soup three times that.

 

“Even a sweet muffin from a pastry shop can have 1,000 milligrams of salt,” Freeman cautions.

 

He notes that his patients are often shocked when confronted with such numbers.

 

“Believe it or not, humans are programmed to enjoy salt and sweets,” Freeman says. “People don’t realize how much they take in. They’ll eat turkey bacon as a healthy choice, but that often has more sodium than regular bacon.”

 

It can be hard to cut out salt altogether, so weaning yourself off it — a little less salt each day — will be easier for many people. You can also substitute herbs and spices for salt to boost a dish’s savoriness.

 

Freeman is an advocate of a plant-based diet, preferably fresh fruit and vegetables that haven’t been salted at a processing plant. “We’re talking about a diet where most of the food comes out of the ground,” he says.

 

In a go-go world, that is not always possible. After all, “convenience foods” are called that for a reason.

 

But you can take some simple steps that will reduce your intake of salt and sodium.

 

Among them:

 

Read the labels on packaged foods. Buy fresh, plain frozen or canned items that specify “no salt added.” Try to use fresh poultry, lean meat and fish rather than processed types such as fish sticks.

 

You can also substitute herbs and spices for salt when you need to season a dish. If you’re cooking black beans, jazz them up with cumin instead of salt.

 

Try to cook pasta and rice without salt. Avoid packaged rice mixes, which tend to be sodium bombs.

 

Rinsing canned food, even items such as tuna, helps remove sodium.

 

“Taking even a few simple steps can make a big difference in your blood pressure,” Freeman says.

 

Substituting herbs, spices and other nonsodium flavorings is a good way to wean yourself off salt while still bringing big flavors to your food. Here are some pairings for various foods suggested by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

 

Meat, Poultry and Fish

 

  • Beef: Bay leaf, marjoram, nutmeg, onion, pepper or sage

 

  • Lamb: Curry powder, garlic, rosemary or mint

 

  • Pork: Garlic, onion, sage, black pepper, oregano

 

  • Veal: Bay leaf, curry, ginger, marjoram, oregano

 

  • Chicken: Ginger, marjoram, oregano, paprika, rosemary, sage, tarragon or thyme

 

  • Fish: Dill, dry mustard, lemon juice, marjoram, paprika, pepper

 

Vegetables

 

  • Carrots: Cinnamon, cloves, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary or sage

 

  • Corn: Cumin, curry, onion, paprika, parsley

 

  • Green beans: Dill, curry, lemon juice, marjoram, oregano, tarragon, thyme

 

  • Greens: Onion, pepper, chile flakes, vinegar

 

  • Peas: Ginger, marjoram, onion, parsley, sage

 

  • Potatoes: Dill, garlic, onion, paprika, parsley, sage

 

  • Summer squash: Cloves, curry, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage

 

  • Winter squash: Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, onion

 

  • Tomatoes: Basil, bay leaf, dill, marjoram, onions, oregano, parsley, pepper

 

Originally posted: TheMorningSun.com  

 

 

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