Salt has become the latest in a long line of food substances under siege by nutritionists. Currently, the government is revising the guidelines of its iconic food pyramid to cut the recommended daily amount of sodium from the current 2300 mg. daily to 1500 mg. As a reference point, one teaspoon of salt contains 2325 mg, already over the healthy limit.
Our bodies need sodium in small amounts to function. Sodium helps maintain the balance of fluids in our bodies, influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles and transmits nerve impulses. The excess is supposed to be excreted in our urine.
Often the body cannot effectively eliminate all of the excess sodium, causing an increase in blood volume, creating a rise in blood pressure and forcing the heart to work harder. This can lead to heart and kidney disease or stroke.
It is estimated that 77% of our salt intake comes from processed foods, while 12% comes from natural sources, and 11% is added during cooking and eating. So, it’s not likely that the light sprinkling of salt on our food is the culprit. When buying foods and condiments, look for other forms of sodium on the label:
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Disodium phosphate
- Sodium alginate
- Sodium nitrate or nitrate
The best way to reduce sodium in your diet is to eat more fresh and fewer processed foods. Avoid lunchmeats, bacon and hotdogs, which have nitrates and added salt.
Limit the use of sodium laden condiments such as soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, and most bottled salad dressings and sauces.
Use fresh herbs and spices, and the zest from citrus fruits to add flavor to your foods without salt.
Eliminating salt use slowly will help your palette adjust more easily. Soon you will be enjoying the natural flavors of fresh, healthy food and the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.
photo: Glasshouse Images