Sodium chloride (salt) is essential to the body. The sodium in salt helps transmit nerve impulses and contract muscle fibers. Working with potassium, it balances fluid levels in in the body. But you only need a tiny amount of salt to do this, less than one-tenth of a teaspoon. The average American gets nearly 20 times that much.
The body can generally rid itself of excess sodium. In some people, though, consuming extra sodium makes the body hold onto water. This increases the amount of fluid flowing through blood vessels, which can increase blood pressure. 28% of Americans don’t know they have high blood pressure which can lead to thicker muscle in the chambers of the heart which is connected to heart failure.
If you have fluid retention, high blood pressure, and/or kidney problems, the Shane Diet & Fitness Resorts Nutritionist will help you prepare to reduce your salt intake at home.
Most of the salt that Americans consume comes from restaurants and processed foods. The leading culprits include snack foods, sandwich meats, smoked and cured meat, canned juices, canned and dry soups, pizza and other fast foods, and many condiments, relishes, and sauces — for starters. But enough comes from the salt shaker that it’s worth finding alternatives.
Here are five ways to cut back on sodium when cooking or at the table:
- Flavor without the shaker. Add flavor to your favorite dishes with spices, dried and fresh herbs, roots (such as garlic and ginger), citrus, vinegars, and wine. From black pepper, cinnamon, and turmeric to fresh basil, chili peppers, and lemon juice, these flavor enhancers create excitement for the palate — and with less sodium.
- Rinse canned food like beans, tuna, and canned veggies. You can reduce the salt by 1/3 or look for “Low –Sodium” or “No Salt” brands.
- Go nuts for healthy fats in the kitchen. Using the right healthy fats — from roasted nuts and avocados to olive, canola, soybean, and other oils — can add a rich flavor to foods, minus the salt.
- Check the Nutrition Facts panel. It lists then amount of sodium in mg. per serving and gives the “percent daily value” (set at 2400 mg.) that contributes to the total daily limit. Since serving sizes are small, you may end up with consuming 2-3 times more than listed.
- Sear, sauté, and roast. Searing and sautéing foods in a pan builds flavor. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of many vegetables and the taste of fish and chicken. If you do steam or microwave food, perk up these dishes with a finishing drizzle of flavorful oil and a squeeze of citrus.
- Avoid processed and packaged foods. Ten pretzels are 815 mg. One medium kosher dill pickle is 1,181mg. Try a Mediterranean-inspired whole-grain salad with chopped vegetables, nuts, and legumes, perhaps a small amount of cheese, herbs and spices, and healthy oils and vinegar or citrus. For breakfast, cook up steel-cut oats, farro, or other intact whole grains with fresh or dried fruit, and you can skip the toast (and the extra sodium).
- Pick the right poultry. Many manufactures inject chicken with saline to make them juicer and weigh more. The result – a three oz. serving has 400mg. sodium before you season it. Choose an additive free organic brand or buy from your local farmers market. Untreated birds are only 50 to 70 mg. of sodium. Shop for peak-of-season produce from farmers’ markets and your local supermarket for a delicious fresh dinner.
Take these steps to lower your sodium intake and reduce the stress on your organs. Remember – if you don’t take the time for exercise and good eating habits, you will have to take time later for illness. Shane Diet & Fitness Resorts can help you understand the “How” behind the “What”. This will lead to permanent change and improved quality of life and let’s face it, who doesn’t want that!?