How to minimize salt in your diet

Food, Nutrology

The American Heart Association (AHA) recently started a campaign to alert the public about certain foods that are particularly high in sodium (salt).  A majority of people consume too much salt every day. The AHA estimates the average sodium intake (Western diet) is 3,400 mg, and the AHA recommends a limit of 1,500 mg per day.

Excess sodium or salt is linked most significantly to the leading cause of mortality; that is, cardiovascular disease (including heart attack and stroke). Excessive salt intake may lead to high blood pressure, along with fluid retention throughout the body. Many experts also believe excess dietary sodium may be closely linked to premature aging.

The AHA campaign focuses on foods that have “hidden” salt—you might not think of them as full of sodium, but they are:

1. Bread and rolls

One piece of bread can have up to 230 mg of sodium. Not a huge amount in each slice, but multiple servings can add up during the day.

2. Cold cuts or packaged meats

Pre-packaged meats may contain a very large amount of sodium; up to 1,050 mg per serving. Salt is added to all processed meats to decrease spoilage.

3. Pizza

Pizza is not necessarily an unhealthy food, but if you are watching your sodium intake, take care. One slice may contain almost 800 mg.

4. Packaged poultry

Salt is often added to raw chicken before it is frozen and packaged. Breaded chicken nuggets are particularly high, and 100 grams contains about 600 mg. of sodium.

5. Canned foods

Most all canned foods are very high in sodium. It’s good to check the sodium content on the label of any canned foods you buy.

Of course you want to limit the amount of salt you add to foods on the table, as ½ teaspoon contains 1,200 mg. of sodium (almost a whole day’s recommended maximal amount). As a salt alternative, try using other spices or lemon juice. Soy sauce is not a good choice however…it’s loaded with sodium.

We can’t discuss salt without mentioning churracos. Tell whoever is taking care of the meat to please salt (at least) part of the meat very lightly!

Choose fresh foods whenever possible, and avoid packaged or processed meats in particular. Read the ingredients label to check the amount of sodium as well as the calories.

When you start to diminish your use of salt, your food may seem somewhat bland, but over time, your taste buds will adjust, and you will be able to better enjoy the actual flavors of the food itself!

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