While some people (like me!) are very aware of their sodium intake, most people don’t seem to worry about it unless their doctor specifically tells them to decrease their intake, for example if they have high blood pressure. So they make themselves a nice healthy meal with fresh vegetables and low fat meats and then spoil it all by tipping a load of salt onto it!!
If you eat a “normal” diet then you probably already take in significantly more than the recommended daily limit of salt, as it’s often added to processed foods. When you go and add salt on top as a condiment, you’re going waaaay over the RDA of 1,600 mg (1.6g.)
Thousands of people every year die from high blood pressure complications (such as stroke) which can be brought on by excess salt consumption.
I first became aware of the dangers of salt when my doctor told me to monitor my intake due to my blood pressure being high. When I calculated my average intake over the course of a week I found it was over 4g per day – far higher than the recommended amount!
Of course the reason we add salt, and the reason why manufacturers add it to processed foods, is because it adds flavour. However there are a lot of alternatives for adding flavour to food apart from salt. Try black pepper, or a spritz of lime or lemon juice. Mixed spice can also give an interesting effect.
Experiment with fresh or dried herbs during the cooking process rather than adding salt on the finished product. Herbs like fresh chillies, garlic (fresh crushed or the lazy type), basil, rosemary, lemongrass, dill, thyme, ginger, etc can all help to enhance the flavour during cooking so that there’s no need to add salt on top.
The foods which contain the most sodium are most cheeses, soy sauce (basically made of salt!!) and bacon. If you can substitute other items for these when cooking, it’s all to the good.
Some foods you would never suspect of containing salt actually have tons of it, even sweet foods. A bag of cookies from the supermarket usually contains around 300mg of sodium. A large Starbucks Frappucino has up to 275mg of sodium. A bottle of Coca Cola has 75mg. This is how your sodium level can creep up without you noticing!
Next time you’re cooking vegetables, instead of adding salt to them, try roasting them instead to bring out the sweetness. I’ve learned that kids vastly prefer this cooking method, too!
Make the decision to cut down on salt intake today. Not only can it hurt your blood pressure and heart health, but it can also worsen water retention. Try cutting out salt for 30 days and see if you don’t prefer the natural flavours of foods.