“Food should be prepared in as simple a manner
as possible, free from condiments and spices, and even from an undue amount of
salt.” Counsels on Diet
and Foods, 340.
We consume sodium every single day, and
that’s a good thing! Our bodies need sodium to help maintain water and mineral
balances and blood volume. But too much of a good thing (sodium in this case)
can have negative effects on our health. The amount of salt we ingest has a
direct effect on our blood pressure. Salt makes our body retain water, which
increases the volume of our blood, which increases the pressure in our veins
and arteries. High sodium intake also contributes to osteoporosis, kidney
disease, asthma, and is even closely related to some cancers.
Sodium is a mineral that occurs naturally in
foods that you eat every day. Salt and sodium are not the same things—but salt
is made from sodium (and chloride). While most of us get enough sodium each day
to meet our body’s needs, the average person consumes way too much! You might
be surprised to learn that Americans consume three to four teaspoons of salt
per day. That is twenty times more than is actually needed! Experts recommend
that adults consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily—that’s about one
teaspoon of salt.
It’s not just the salt we shake on our food
that’s the problem. Most comes from fast and processed foods. It’s hidden in
products we might not even suspect such as peanut butter, canned vegetables,
crackers, chips, breads, bakery products, soy sauce, many beverages, and even
are ways you can cut back on sodium:
fresh fruit and vegetables instead of packaged or processed foods.
the salt shaker with fresh herbs and spices for seasoning your foods.
add salt to boiling water when cooking pasta, vegetables, or rice.
and rinse canned foods before serving or adding to recipes. Buy canned goods
with “No salt added” on the label.
brown rice instead of flavored rice or any that comes with a packet of powdered
salt substitutes wisely. Some salt substitutes or light salts contain a mixture
of table salt and other compounds. To achieve that familiar salty taste, you
may use too much of the substitute—and get too much sodium.
Your taste for salt is acquired, so you can
learn to enjoy less. Decrease your use of salt gradually and your taste buds
will adjust. After a few weeks of cutting back on salt, you probably won’t miss
it, and some foods may even taste too salty. Start by using no more than 1/4
teaspoon of salt daily—at the table and in cooking. Then throw away the salt
shaker. As you use less salt, your preference for it diminishes, allowing you
to enjoy the taste of the food itself, with heart-healthy benefits.