Tuesday, December 12

How to Control Salt Consumption

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Good old salt has been used by human beings since 6,000 BC and was once considered so precious it was used as a trade commodity.  How does salt affect the weather?  Well, small particles of sea salt are the main ingredient for cloud condensation out at sea.

Salt is sodium, and as you can see, salt is pretty important.  Our bodies need it too, within certain limits.  Most medical organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, recommend not consuming more than 1,500 and 2,400 milligrams (mg) a day for healthy adults, because excess salt in the body can affect your heath in many ways.

Possible health related effects of excess sodium intake can be high blood pressure, heartburn, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, cardiovascular disease, left ventricular hypertrophy (cardiac enlargement), edema (fluid retention), renal function, and duodenal and gastric ulcers.  The less salt you consume, the better it is for your blood pressure.  Where do you get your daily salt?  Typically 5% is added during cooking, 6% is added from the salt shaker while we eat, about 12% is from natural sources (the salt that exists naturally in food), and a whopping 77% can come from processed foods.

Salt makes things taste better, no doubt.  So how do you lower your intake and still enjoy your meals?  Well, as with everything awareness is key.  Try to know approximately how much sodium there is in the food you eat – read the label.  Taste your food before using the salt shaker, use salt substitutes, and use more herbs and spices.  If you eat at fast food restaurants often, try to find out the sodium content of your favorite foods and eat them in moderation or limit your salt intake on days you know you will be eating there.  If you use canned vegetables, just drain them and rinse them to lower the sodium content slightly.

Salt is an acquired taste, and you can reduce your need for it in the foods you eat.  To decrease your taste buds dependence on salt, first decrease your use of salt slowly, over time.  If you stop using salt all at once, food will taste bland and unappealing.  You can start by not using the salt shaker at one meal, and gradually include all meals.  After you eliminate adding salt to your already cooked food, work on reducing the amount of salt you use in your cooking.  If you would like more tips about lowering your sodium intake, click here.

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