Salt and More Salt
Reducing the intake of salt/sodium in your diet can reduce your risk for heart disease, elevated blood pressure, and potentially the development of obesity.
Recent research has linked high sodium intake with obesity. Intake of salty foods is often associated with intake of high-calorie beverages, such as sodas, to quench the thirst. Such additional caloric intake, without additional caloric expenditure, can lead to weight gain and obesity (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/11/061101151027.htm).
There is also research that supports that following a sodium-controlled or reduced sodium diet may help in managing elevated blood pressure (hypertension), and water retention (i.e., bloating). According to the American Heart Association, guidelines for a healthy diet include choosing and preparing foods with little or no salt.
Therefore, it is important to know where salt is hiding in your diet. Begin by reading labels and comparing products. Brand names contain varied levels of sodium. Review frozen food labels, soups, cereals, baked goods and other processed foods, and look for foods that have less than 300 mg of sodium per serving. Also check the serving size to determine the total amount of sodium in the product. For example, if you consume an entire package of food and the package contains 3 servings, then you will have consumed three times the amount of sodium that is listed on the nutrition label.
Guidelines for sodium intake range from less than 1,500mg (1.5grams) to 2,300mg (2.3grams) per day. The American Heart Association and the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a sodium limit of 2,300 mg per day, while those individuals who are at a higher risk of heart disease (African Americans, individuals with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease and those 51 years and older) should aim for less than 1,500 mg per day.
Listed below are suggestions on how to reduce sodium in the diet.
- Limit high-sodium containing foods such as processed or preserved foods like bacon, ham, cold cuts, sausages, canned and smoked meats, and some cheeses (1 cup of grated parmesan has about 1,861 mg sodium, 1 cup small cured creamed cottage cheese has about 851 mg of sodium, 1 ounce of non-fat cheese singles has about 427 mg of sodium, 1 ounce of American cheese has about 400 mg of sodium).
- Limit intake of canned soups, broths, bouillon cubes, instant soup mixes and canned vegetables.
- Read labels on favorite snack items and condiments/relishes to determine the sodium content. Items such as chips, salted nuts, pretzels, salted crackers, microwave popcorn, ketchup, mustard, pickles and olives can contain high amounts of salt or sodium.
- Instant mixes, such as cakes and puddings will have a high level of sodium.
- Remove the salt shaker from the table and try cooking with less seasoned salts (garlic salt, onion salt, etc.) or monosodium glutamate (MSG), meat sauces, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and meat tenderizers.
- Review current recipes and determine possible alternatives to baking soda, which can contain as much as 821 mg - 980 mg of sodium per teaspoon, and baking powder, which has 320 mg - 480 mg of sodium per teaspoon. Health food stores have alternatives if you do not have any potassium restrictions.
- Purchase salt-free and low-sodium versions of products such as soups, broths, and snacks.
- Look into possible alternatives such as salt substitutes. Check with your physician to determine if these are an option for you.
- Add fresh juices such as lemon or lime and salt-free vegetable juices to salads as a salt-free dressing option.
- Try rinsing foods canned in salt or brine, such as canned beans, to remove additional sodium.
- Use herbs, spices, garlic powder, and onion powder to enhance flavors. Create your own seasoning blends with a variety of herbs and spices to enhance your foods without adding salt. Combine favorite ingredients in a small jar or bottle, close tightly, label and keep in a cool, dark, dry place. Rub or sprinkle them on food to add flavor.
A few samples include:
- Mixed Herb Blend (for salads, pasta salads, steamed vegetables, vegetable soup, and fish). Blend ¼ cup dried parsley flakes, 2 tablespoons dried tarragon, 1 tablespoon of each dried oregano, dill weed, and celery flakes.
- Easy Dip Blend (for mixing with cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese, low-fat sour cream, and on chicken and fish). Blend ¼ cup dried dill weed and 1 tablespoon of each of the following: dried chives, garlic powder, dried lemon peel, and dried chervil.
Low Sodium, but Tasty Meat Loaf
Yield: 8 Servings
About 119 mg of sodium per serving
- 2 lb ground beef (97% lean)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1 egg
- 8 oz no-salt added tomato sauce
- 8 oz fresh part-skim mozzarella, shredded
- 1 cup green pepper, diced
- ½ cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup onions, diced
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs, from low sodium bread
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, mix together meat, spices, egg, bread crumbs and 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce.
- Space a large piece of foil with non-stick vegetable oil spray.
- Pat meat mixture to a 12x18 inch rectangle on foil.
- Sprinkle evenly with cheese, pressing into meat.
- Top with vegetables (green pepper, mushrooms and onions).
- Starting at the short end, roll up tightly, using foil to start roll.
- Seal ends.
- Transfer to 12x9 inch baking dish.
- Bake 1 hour.
- Spread remaining sauce over top and bake 15 minutes longer.
1 serving = 2 Tablespoons
About 106 mg of sodium per serving
- 2 cans (16 ounces) reduced-sodium garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained except for ¼ cup liquid
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 3 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- In a blender or food processor, add the garbanzos. Process to puree.
- Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, pepper, paprika, tahini and parsley.
- Blend well.
- Add the reserved liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture has the consistency of a thick spread.
- Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Try dipping carrots or celery into the hummus or spread on a sandwich.