It tastes so good! Its why we often crave salty snacks. Its one of the reasons we love to eat out because of the perfectly balanced flavor in restaurant foods. Yet we all know that too much sodium is unhealthy. Too much sodium leads to excess fluid build up in our bodies which may, over time, affect vital organs including our hearts and kidneys.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 recommend limiting sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day. The recommendation decreases to 1,500 mg per day if you are African-American, have hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or are an adult age 51 or older. Children also need to reduce their sodium intake since 9 out of 10 children eat more sodium than recommended.
Kosher, Himalayan, and flake salts are all the rage but don’t forget that salt is salt. Here is a quick guide that outlines the differences in table and specialty salts: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes/food-guides/salt
Regardless of the type of salt you prefer, look for some healthy alternatives to help reduce daily sodium intake for you and your family. Consider the following:
- Read the nutrition label on products to see the amount of sodium per serving
- Use fresh or dried herbs (e.g., thyme, oregano, basil, sage, tarragon, etc.) and spices (e.g., smoked paprika, cumin, Harissa, cayenne, Zaatar, etc.) to flavor foods when cooking
- Make your own salt-free seasoning blend
- Buy the single serve bag of potato chips or popcorn to limit sodium intake
- Make your own potato or veggie chips so that you control the sodium content
- Do not add extra salt to prepared meals
- Limit sodium rich condiments (e.g., ketchup, commercial salad dressing, soy sauce, etc.)
- Limit or avoid processed meats and those that are smoked or cured which are notoriously high in sodium
- Look for reduced sodium, low-salt or no-salt canned foods
- Eat more fresh foods
- Reduce, or eliminate, the amount of salt when preparing a favorite recipe or when trying a new recipe
- Investigate healthful ways to reduce sodium intake for your kids http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/children-sodium/infographic.html
- Check with your doctor before using commercially prepared salt substitutes if you have heart issues. Some salt substitutes contain potassium chloride which may be of concern to individuals with certain health conditions.