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3 Ways to Reduce Your Salt Intake

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As a child and teenager, I had a huge sweet tooth and craved sweets often.  As I started exercising, however, my sweet tooth turned savory.  And now, I like to fondly refer to myself as a “salt hound”…craving salty foods most of the time (except after dinner).  For the most part, I’m happy about this: Added sugar has tons of empty calories AND, too much added sugar in your diet is extremely bad for you.  Unfortunately, too much salt consumption is no good either.

Salt, also known as sodium, is essential to our health and well being when consumed in the right amount.  It is instrumental in:

  • Maintaining the right balance of fluids in your body
  • Transmitting nerve impulses
  • Influencing the contraction and relaxation of muscles

Too much sodium, however, can contribute to health problems – namely high blood pressure – which can lead to cardiovascular disease and kidney disease.  As a result, it is best to keep consumption to no more than 1,500 to 2,400 milligrams (mg) a day for healthy adults.  The lower your sodium intake, the more beneficial it is to your blood pressure.

It is important to note that sodium is found in both table salt, and in processed and packaged foods.  Is a matter of fact, much of the salt we consume is found in pre-packaged foods.  So, it is best to watch your intake of both.  In order to lower or minimize consumption, follow these tips:

  1. Read Nutrition Labels: Salt comes in many forms and it is important to understand the different ways it can be listed on ingredient lists.  MSG, baking soda, baking powder, disodium phosphate, sodium alginate, and sodium nitrate all represent sodium. Further, choose foods that tend to represent less than 15% of your total daily intake of sodium.
  2. Purchasing Foods: When possible, choose fresh, whole foods.  Whole foods do not contain any added salt or sodium.  If, however,  you do purchase foods that are canned, processed or packaged, always look for low-sodium or low-salt options. Also, try to cut out pre-mixed or prepared foods such as sauces, frozen pizzas, frozen dinners, frozen foods in general…as they all tend to be high in sodium.
    Here are some specifics:

    • Vegetables: When buying veggies, make sure to buy them fresh as much as possible.  If you do buy your vegetables frozen, make sure to check the ingredients for any sodium or salt.
    • Meats: Whenever possible, buy only fresh meat, fish or poultry. Processed and canned meats tend to have a lot of salt or sodium. Also, avoid cured and smoked meats.
    • Cold-Cuts: Cold-cuts are notorious for being high in sodium or salt.  If you purchase cold-cuts always opt for those varieties that are low in sodium.
    • Canned Soups: Buy and consume canned soups, broths or bouillon sparingly.  Try making your own.
    • Nuts: Avoid salted nuts and instead, opt for those that are unsalted.
    • Salad Dressings and Condiments: Many condiments and dressings are high in sodium.  Some of the worst offenders include soy sauce, teriyaki, barbecue and ketchup.As a result, try making your own or using those that are lower in sodium.
  3. Cooking:

Remember, you can retrain your taste buds.  Cutting out salt, little by little will allow you to get used to the flavor of having less salt and as a result, will help your body crave less salt.

Do you know how much salt and sodium you are getting in your diet?  Have you tried cutting back?
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  • Becca

    Also try ordering french fries without salt, the oil and ketchup have enough salt already.

  • shelby@douglaspkg.com

    Click on the low salt section..some tips. XoXo C

  • shelby@douglaspkg.com

    interesting tips.

  • Zazu

    Both my husband and I are very cautious about using salt at all in our diet…because of the high blood pressure aspect.
    We read all labels on packaged foods, and rarely, if ever, buy packaged foods. Even fruit juices have sodium…Every edible thing has sodium in it.
    We tend to only purchase items (such as chips) with the lowest sodium we can find which is not an easy task.

    We wonder when will the food industry take note, and start reducing salt in their foods.
    We rarely eat out because of the salt content in everything on the menus.
    Good thing my husband is a great chef…he uses no salt in any of his dishes; The only reason we have a little salt in our pantry is for using as a sore throat soother as in gargling with salt water.

    We do wish, however, that the restaurants would get the picture.

    My husband always says “the salt salesman should get an award since there’s salt in everything!”

  • Susan Frugoli

    One should remember that table salt is approximately one-half SODIUM and the other half chloride. Sodium is the element to try to control. 70% of our intake of SODIUM is from pre-packaged,pre-prepared, boxed, canned and frozen entrees,dinners,sauced vegetables, etc. And the salt shaker contributes about 30% of our intake of sodium.

  • valerie

    when will scientist come up with a true salt substitue? we have a ton of sugar substitutes! And dont believe sea salt is better. gram for gram, it has the same amount of sodium.
    frustrated!

  • Alice Decato

    What about Kosher salt

    • Brett

      Hi Alice. Great question:
      Differences lie mostly in texture. Table salt has fine granules that dissolve quickly. Sea salt and kosher salt are larger, irregular grains that give texture to food. Kosher salt is often used by savvy cooks because it is easier to savor with.
      All are at least 97 1/2 percent sodium chloride. But there are significant differences in their processing.

      Table salt is mined from underground salt deposits, and includes a small portion of calcium silicate, an anti-caking agent added to prevent clumping. It possesses very fine crystals and a sharp taste. Because of its fine grain a single teaspoon of table salt contains more salt than a tablespoon of kosher or sea salt. Sea salt is harvested from evaporated seawater and receives little or no processing, leaving intact the minerals from the water it came from. These minerals flavor and color the salt slightly. However, because these salts are usually expensive, it is worth keeping in mind that they lose their unique flavor when cooked or dissolved. Kosher salt contains no preservatives and can be derived from either seawater or underground sources. Aside from being a great salt to keep within arm’s reach when you are cooking, it is particularly useful in preserving, because its large crystals draw moisture out of meats and other foods more effectively than other salts.

  • Ladyd

    Thanks for this. I was just in the doctor’s office last week discussing this. While I do not have high BP, I had a very high BP reading the other week while I was sick for the first time in my life. My doctor attributed it to all the medication I was on that week because it was back to normal shortly after all of the meds were out of my system, but it still scared me. She did mention that it is best to make sure I continue to make sure that my salt intake is low in order to keep from having any increases in the BP. It was amazing to me considering that even during my pregnancy (first and only) I never had a high BP reading. Many people really do not realize how many hidden places salt/sodium are and how much it can affect your health. I have added sea salt and kosher salt to my spice cabinet and I personally do not cook with salt normally (rarely I may use some seasoned salt) because I use Mrs. Dash and a lot of herbs and spices. Again, thanks for this info!