Back in the Stone Ages, salt was most commonly used as a method of preservation, and it was also occasionally used to flavor food. The amount used to season, however, has increased over time by an insane amount. We’ve even started salting our food before we taste it!
How much is too much?
According to The American Heart Association, you shouldn’t be consuming more than 2,300 milligrams of salt per day, but ideally, you should keep it closer to 1,500 per day. Even a reduction of 100 mg per day can make a difference and positively impact heart health!
To put it in perspective:
- ¼ teaspoon of salt = 575 mg sodium
- 1 teaspoon = 2,300 mg sodium
Most Americans are eating more than 3,400 mg of sodium per day. That’s an astonishing amount compared to what is recommended! When we consume too much salt, we tell our bodies to retain water, which creates an added strain on the heart and blood vessels, resulting in raised blood pressure. People with high blood pressure have a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, so it’s beneficial to take preventive, precautionary measures.
Ways to avoid sodium when cooking
- Instead of shaking the salt shaker on all your kitchen creations, try flavoring your food with garlic, fresh or dried herbs, and balsamic vinegar. These options can pack major flavor without the added sodium.
- Cook your veggies in fun ways that enhance the flavor of the food before any seasoning is added. For instance, instead of just steaming your veggies, try grilling, roasting and sautéing them!
- Ironically enough, the salt content we consume isn’t just coming from table salt. In fact, 75 percent comes from processed ingredients and restaurant foods. Opt for low-sodium options when possible on foods like soups, beans, chicken broth, etc.
Ways to avoid sodium outside the home
- Watch your portion sizes. If you’re cutting back on sodium, more than likely a decrease in calories will also help lower your sodium intake.
- Ask how certain dishes have been prepared, and opt for foods that are grilled, steamed, and roasted instead of cured, smoked and covered in Teriyaki sauce. A lot of times, salt can sneak into the foods we love! Check out the Salty Six foods that are the biggest culprits!
Monitoring your salt intake doesn’t have to be bland and boring! Look at it as an opportunity to experiment with different flavor methods, like the ones we mentioned above!