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Like it or not, eating too much salt is bad for you. Sodium in excess has been associated
with increased risk of stomach cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease. The
recommended daily amount is about 1500 mg, with a maximum of 2400 mg. However, the
majority of us are consuming amounts much higher than that, up to a whopping 6000
mg a day!
New research shows that reducing your salt intake, even in small amounts, could mean
fewer heart attacks, strokes and death. The simplest way to limit or reduce salt
intake is to be more aware of what you put into your mouth.
How Do I Eat Less Salt?
Limit processed and prepared foods. Most of the sodium in our diet comes from eating
processed and prepared foods, including canned vegetables, soups, luncheon meats,
bacon, hot dogs, ham, sausages and frozen foods.
Food manufacturers use salt or other sodium-containing compounds to preserve food
and to improve the taste and texture of food. If you want to use canned foods such
as tuna, I suggest you rinse them first to remove some sodium.
Also, cut back on instant rice or pasta, pizzas, broths and smoked or cured meats.
Instead, have more fresh fruits and vegetables as they are naturally low in sodium.
Read food labels to determine sodium content. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), baking
soda, baking powder, disodium phosphate, sodium alginate and sodium nitrate or nitrite
are examples of sodium-containing compounds. Avoiding foods that contain such compounds
will significantly cut salt in your diet.
Keep the following terms in mind when buying foods such as cereals, crackers, pasta
sauces, bouillon cubes, tomato juice, canned foods and cold cuts on your next grocery
trip. Take the time to compare the salt levels on a few similar products. Always
try to choose products that are lower in salt to limit salt intake.
Sodium free – less than 5 mg sodium in a portion.
Very low sodium – less than 35 mg sodium in a portion.
Low sodium– less than 140 mg sodium in a portion.
Reduced sodium food – contains 25 % less sodium than the regular food item.
Light in sodium food – 50 % less sodium than the regular food item.
Unsalted, No salt added, or Without added salt – no salt has been added to a food
that is normally processed with salt.
Know your sodium-containing condiments. One teaspoon of table salt has 2325 mg of
sodium, and 1 tablespoon of soy sauce has about 900 to 1000 mg of sodium.
In addition, teriyaki sauces, barbeque sauces, salad dressings, dips, ketchup, mustard
and relish all contain sodium. Adding these to your meals – while cooking or at the
table – increases the sodium count of food.
Use herbs, spices, vinegars and other flavorings to enhance foods rather than salt.
Learn how to use fresh or dried herbs (oregano, basil, thyme, parsley, coriander,
garlic, onion, shallot, spring onion, etc), spices, zest from citrus fruit, and fruit
juices to flavor foods.
Use pure vegetable oils such as canola or peanut oil instead of salted butter or
margarine for cooking.
And, use less salt in the recipe, whenever possible. Rice, pasta, and hot cereals
can be cooked with little or no salt.
When eating out, ask to have your food prepared with less salt or without salt. Be
specific about what you want and how you want it prepared. Choose menu items that
are baked, broiled, or made without sauces or gravies, as they are usually lower
If you reduce salt gradually, you will not notice a huge difference in your palate.
Just a few weeks eating less salt, your taste buds will adjust and you will become
more sensitive to the salt in food. Trust me, you will still enjoy less sodium-rich