Reducing the salt and sodium in your diet is actually not as challenging as it may sound. In terms of our diets, we obtain sodium from processed and prepared foods, natural sources, and by way of adding it to recipes in the kitchen or at the dinner table. The vast majority of sodium we consume comes from processed and prepared foods.
According to the American Heart Association:
“Sodium can come from natural sources or be added to foods. Most foods in their natural state contain some sodium. However, the majority (up to 75 percent) of sodium that Americans consume comes from sodium added to processed foods by manufacturers. While some of this sodium is added to foods for safety reasons – the amount of salt added to processed foods is clearly above and beyond what is required for safety and function of the food supply.”
Why Should You Reduce Salt in Your Diet?
“High-sodium diets are linked to an increase in blood pressure and a higher risk for heart disease and stroke. Reducing the amount of sodium you consume can help lower high blood pressure or prevent it from developing in the first place.”
My Experience with Reducing Salt and Sodium
A taste for salt is definitely an acquired one. After reducing salt within my diet, I noticed I had less of a craving, and my taste buds actually adjusted. The same can easily happen for you.
On the few occasions when I cook at home, I rarely add salt to any of my food. One of my favorite things to cook is a stir-fry, because it is healthy, quick, easy and delicious. It is the perfect dish for the single woman (or anyone), who wants to watch her weight, but also eat something tasty.
At times I will include a lean meat in the stir-fry, but usually I am content with only preparing fresh vegetables in my wok. I combine ingredients like broccoli, carrots, celery, mushrooms, onions and peppers, and cook them in extra virgin olive oil. Many people say you should not stir-fry with olive oil, but it is consistently my go to cooking oil in the kitchen. I never use the packaged stir-fry seasonings that come in the little envelopes, because they are regularly packed with sodium and other undesirables. I always season with a variety of spices like garlic, and if I use soy sauce it is always low sodium. Depending on the stir-fry dish I prepare, other seasonings I may use include curry, thyme, black pepper, onion powder or freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Try the following tips to reduce salt and sodium within your own diet:
Condition yourself to not touch the saltshaker. For many people, adding salt to food at the dinner table is something they do out of habit. Once you decrease your overall sodium intake, you will notice that you crave salt less.
Enhance the flavor of food with other spices. Start sampling other spices to enhance the flavor of recipes in your kitchen.
Avoid the salt substitutes. Many of these are high in potassium chloride. Consuming too much can lead to a different set of issues.
Read the labels in the supermarket. When you go to the grocery store take your time while you shop. Make sure you read the back of any packaged foods, condiments, etc., so you know exactly how much sodium you will consume.
Eat fresh organic foods. Instead of buying a lot of packaged and processed foods, purchase fresh meats and vegetables. After increasing the amount of fresh organic foods within your diet, you will notice a true difference in how you look and feel.
American Heart Association: Sodium (Salt or Sodium Chloride)