Do you like salt? Do you love salt? If you answered yes to either question, you’re not alone. Salt finds its way into an abundance of foods. Needless to say, this is not ideal for our health. So what can we do?
In this article, we will discuss the dangers of including too much salt in your diet. Then, we will talk about healthy alternatives. No better time than now – February, American Heart Month – to give this your attention. But don’t worry; we are not attempting for you to completely break off your relationship with salt (after all, February is also the month for Valentines!). When it comes to your heart, it’s best that you find romance with a multitude of healthy and tasty partners.
The American Heart Association recommends 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day. To clarify these measurements in familiar terms, 1,000 milligrams is equal to one gram, and one teaspoon is equal to five grams. Therefore, a level teaspoon of salt, which is 40 percent sodium by weight, contains 2,000 milligrams of sodium.
The majority of Americans easily surpasses this amount, with the average person consuming approximately 3,400 milligrams.
A driving reason is that several foods we eat contain sodium without us even knowing it. To name a few:
- Pizza – Especially with non-vegetable toppings. The solution is not to have an excess of cheese on your pizza, and to include more veggies than non-veggies in your toppings.
- Soup – The amount of sodium in a single can could be as little as 100 milligrams, or as much as 940 milligrams. Do some detective work to ensure that your soup is of a lower sodium variety.
- Deli meats – Depending on the variety, a two ounce serving of any deli meat could contain as much as half of the recommended 1,500 daily milligrams of sodium. Again, look for lower sodium varieties.
- Soy sauce – A tablespoon of soy sauce contains 1,000 milligrams of sodium. Even light soy sauce contains 500 milligrams of sodium.
Why be Concerned?
So, why be concerned about your salt intake? Too much of it can raise your blood pressure, but having it in moderation can reduce the risk of you developing naturally high blood pressure. Also, controlling your salt intake can lower your odds of developing the following conditions:
- Stomach cancer
- Kidney disease
- Heart failure
The question you must be asking yourself now is, “How can I be cautious about the amount of salt I put in my body, while still getting the same satisfaction of flavor?”
If Not Salt, Then What?
Herbs and spices you can cook with as a substitution for salt include:
- Garlic powder
- Black pepper powder
- Onion powder
- Lemon juice
- Sunflower seeds
In terms of specific dishes that cut down on salt, there are numerous possibilities. Click on these links to the allrecipes, EatingWell and Food Network websites to discover what low-salt recipes you like best.
Now, to Begin Your Low-Salt Plan!
There are a few ways to transition into a lifestyle with less salt in the mix. First, take this quiz. It will open your eyes – and your mouth, and your heart – to facts about sodium you probably would not have guessed.
Join the conversation. Offer any advice you may have or any stories involving salt that might get others to consider taking action. It’s time to foster your relationship with salt! Have fun peppering your life with a newfound low-sodium diet.
Content expert: Ira Ockene, MD, Cardiologist