Published November 16, 2012
Despite warnings about the risks associated with a diet high in sodium, like kidney disease, hypertension and diabetes, many of us continue to add too much salt to our food. The Institute of Medicine’s Daily Reference Intake recommends a maximum of 2,300mg of sodium per day; the average American eats a whopping 3,400mg of sodium per day!
No one suggests cutting out salt all together because our body does need some sodium to function properly. But it is fairly simple to ease up on salt without sacrificing flavor.
Read food labels
Sodium is hidden in a lot of unexpected places. Just because something doesn’t taste salty, does not mean that it is sodium free. Diet sodas, cookies and condiments such as ketchup and soy sauce can pack a bunch of unwanted sodium – upwards of 900 mg per tablespoon. Best bet: look for items listed as “low sodium,” which means it has less than 140 mg of sodium per serving.
Reduce salt when cooking
Using vague measurements like a ‘shake’ here or a ‘pinch’ there makes it hard to know how much salt is actually going into your meals. Consider that a mere ¼ teaspoon of salt contains 600 mg of sodium. To decrease your daily sodium intake start by cutting back on salt in your recipes by 25 percent.
Do a balancing act
If you aren’t quite ready to get rid of your salt shaker, try to balance out your sodium consumption by upping your potassium intake. Potassium helps reduce the damage caused by sodium by lowering blood pressure and dilating arteries. Some foods rich in potassium include oranges, melon, and tomatoes.
Dress your salad the healthy way
Many commercial salad dressings contain way too much sodium. The average salad dressing contains about 500 mg of sodium per two tablespoons, and most of us use more dressing than that. You can avoid all that salt by making your own sodium-free salad dressing using oil and vinegar and fresh herbs.
Season your dishes with spices and fruits
Instead of adding salt to every dish you cook, try adding herbs, spices and even some zest of lemon or orange. Any of these add lots of flavor, sans sodium. Rosemary and lemon are delicious with chicken and orange zest goes perfectly with seafood, again, without salt. A splash of fresh lemon or orange juice will add refreshing flavor to your dishes along with a bonus of antioxidants and Vitamin C.
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a nationally known registered dietitian based in New York and the creator of a proprietary high-fiber nutrition program for weight loss, wellness and for treating various medical conditions. Tanya authored the bestselling weight loss book The F-Factor Diet, and she is the first dietitian with a national line of high-fiber foods, which are sold under the F-Factor name. Become a fan of Tanya on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website Ffactor.com.