Sunday, May 30, 2010

A spoonful of .....salt!

Salt is back in the news and worth reading about. Thirty years ago, clear links were made regarding salt and high blood pressure. At that time greater regulation of processed foods, which accounts for 80% of salt intake, was fought by large food companies. New research has confirmed past research and efforts are being directed again toward regulating salt.

Why regulate? Because between high salt intake and the rising incidence of obesity, high blood pressure is being seen at an increasing rate in children and reducing salt intake could save 150,000 lives per year.

You may have put your salt shaker away but the food industry has not. Just one cup of canned chicken soup has more sodium (salt) then you should have in a day. Just one cup! Adding salt to food influences flavor and texture. It allows cheaper, less flavorful ingredients to be used.

So what can you do?
1. Read the label of any processed food, you do want to have more than 1500 mg of sodium per day, the lower your intake the better. Processed food includes canned foods as well as crackers, cookies and breads.
2. Look for fresh, minimally processed food for snacks and meals. Think about fruit (dried or fresh), veggies, roasted nuts and seeds. When buying any processed or canned foods, look for the unsalted or low sodium options.
3. Make your own whenever possible. Invest in a air popper for popcorn so you can control your salt. Try your hand at making soup and freeze extras to use later. Use marinades made from simple ingredients rather than packaged or jarred marinades ( check out our newsletter archives, July 2009, for a marinade recipe).
4. When salty foods are eaten, make sure you monitor how much- don't eat from the bag, put some in a cup. Reduce the amount by mixing unsalted foods (nuts,tortilla chips, dried fruit) with the salted chips or nuts.
5. Use some flavorful substitutes for salt: paprika is great sprinkled on popcorn, add some fresh dill to stews and soups, a splash of balsamic vinegar wakes up roasted veggies.

Salt and sugar are primal tastes. We all are drawn towards these flavors. Although we naturally like salty foods, by avoiding or limiting highly salted foods, our kids will learn to prefer appropriately salted foods and ultimately enjoy the taste of real food- not the salt.


1 comment:

  1. Great topic! I had to watch my sodium intake closely during my last pregnancy because of pregnancy-induced hypertension. It really opened my eyes to how hard it is to avoid high sodium foods when eating out (and of course anything processed). The good news is that keeping my sodium intake low kept my PIH at bay until the last week of my pregnancy!