Wonder what’s causing the uproar about an ingredient as basic as salt? Find out what registered dietitian Carolyn O’Neil has to say about sodium reduction at home, in restaurants and in packaged foods at the store.
Who would have thought that something as simple as salt could be the cause of debate? With a continued focus on better health, government officials are advising limits on this savory seasoning in home cooking, restaurant menus, packaged foods and school lunches. Concern about this salty nemesis can be attributed to sodium’s association with high blood pressure, which can increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 70 percent of U.S. adults should limit sodium intake. This is based on U.S. Dietary Guidelines that recommend about one teaspoon of salt each day, approximately 2,300 milligrams of sodium. Adults with high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, African-Americans and all adults over the age of 50 should cut the amount to 1,500 milligrams a day. Currently, most of us eat around 4,000 milligrams of sodium a day - the equivalent of two teaspoons.
Strategies for Tackling the Salt Shaker
- Take a 3-week break from salt to allow taste buds to adjust
- Read labels on packaged foods such as dressings, sauces, pickles and cheeses
- Request foods in restaurants be prepared without added sodium
- Choose menu items that you can season yourself at the table
- Consume potassium-rich spinach, cantaloupe, oranges and other fruits and vegetables
- Upgrade to sea salt - the fluffy granules melt on the tongue to provide a quick, salty kick
What are your favorite food combos?