Salt has become a staple in the American diet. As a nation, we tend to overuse the tasty additive, sometimes to unhealthy measures. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, individuals should limit consumption to 2,300 mg of sodium (that’s just one teaspoon of salt a day!). The guidelines also confirm that excessive salt intake is associated with high blood pressure, which can lead to coronary heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure and kidney disease.
But fear not. There are some simple ways to become a savvy salt shaker. Follow these tips to master your salt intake and create a healthy diet:
Eat fresh, not processed. Fresh fruit, veggies, meat, and poultry contain less sodium than commercially processed food. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 75 percent of the salt found in our nation’s food supply comes from food whose salt content was added by manufacturers. Alternatively, naturally occurring salt in our food only accounts for 10 percent of intake. Rely on these fresh or plain frozen staples when planning your meals.
Read the nutritional information. Think of the nutritional fact panel on your food packages as your handy cheat sheet. These labels are the key to knowing whether or not the product will meet your health needs. As a general guideline, anything less than 140 mg of sodium or 5 percent of your daily suggested value is considered low in salt. Be aware that nutritional values of certain foods may be different across brands. For example, one company’s tomato soup may contain substantially more salt than another brand’s. Shop around and compare labels to get the healthiest option for any given packaged food.
Choose low or no sodium alternatives. Many products like chicken stock, soy sauce and even potato chips come in low or no sodium alternatives. Reach for these instead of the regular options to give you a leg up in the salt game. Nutrisystem provides many lower sodium alternatives of your favorite foods! Try items, like Nutrisystem Pretzels when you just need your salty fix.
Flavor food with herbs and spices instead. There are many non-salt alternatives to flavor your food with. Experiment with new herbs and spices to add healthy flavor to your cooking. For example, rosemary and thyme can be great compliments to meat and poultry dishes. Similarly, garlic, oregano, and basil can be the start to any great Italian meal. Challenge yourself to hide the salt and treat your palette to a flavor-packed departure from the ordinary.
Taste your food before reaching for the salt shaker. Over-salting is a habit that can be consciously avoided. Remove the salt shaker from the table, hide it in the depths of the cupboard—whatever it takes. Your taste buds may need some time to adjust to food sans over-salting but once they do, you will love being able to taste all the different flavor notes in your food.