Sharon Sprague, of Umommy, is joining the Sodium Blog as a Guest Blogger today.
Most people who love to cook know that salt can be your secret ingredient, giving whatever you’re making that extra “POW.” If you were to peek into my kitchen, you would see the container of Kosher salt within arms’ reach at all times. A “generous pinch” of salt s typically on the ingredient list of most recipes I use. Until now.
You see, it’s time that my family and I break up with salt. Okay, not a complete breakup, but maybe it’s time we see less of each other.
Too much sodium can put you at risk for:
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Failure
- Stomach Cancer
- Kidney Stones
- Enlarged Heart Muscle
When I look at this list of health risks, I see the faces of family members who are suffering or have battled and lost to these terrible conditions. And if that wasn’t enough to get me to reduce my sodium intake, my tight jeans and puffy face from water retention surely will.
So what’s a food fanatic like me to do?
Shop smart – Food manufacturers add a lot of sodium to boost flavor to bland, overly processed ingredients. So be sure to read nutrition labels and when you can choose products labeled “low-sodium,” “no salt added,” or look for the heart check mark . Also beware of packaged meat injected with a sodium solution. This is often found in poultry and labeled “broth,” “saline” or “sodium solution.”
Get to know the Salty Six – 1) Breads and rolls, 2) cold cuts and cured meats, 3) pizza, 4) poultry, 5) canned soup and 6) sandwiches/burgers from fast food joints all contain a lot of hidden sodium. Compare labels and for lower sodium varieties or cut back on portion sizes.
Cook from scratch – Processed, packaged and restaurant foods can have a lot of sodium. I mean A LOT. When you cook real food from scratch, you control how much salt is in a dish. No brainer, right? If you do find yourself buying the boxed stuff, check the nutrition label. The American Heart Association recommends adults consume 1500 mg or less a day. That’s less than a teaspoon of table salt a day.
Up your cooking game – Learn to boost flavor using onions, garlic, herbs, spices, citrus juice or zest, and vinegars. Red pepper flakes and sriracha sauce have recently become my new best friends. Bring out the natural flavors in food and get a nice caramelized flavor when grilling, roasting, searing and sautéing.
- Make potassium your wing-man – Did you know foods with potassium could counter the effects of sodium and can even lower your blood pressure? I’m trying to add more sweet potatoes, potatoes, greens, tomatoes, low-sodium beans, nonfat yogurt, oranges, bananas and cantaloupe into every meal.
Join me in reducing sodium intake. Take the pledge to #BreakUpWithSalt. And help me urge the food industry and policy makers to reduce sodium in the foods we eat. Get more tips on how to reduce sodium, including these steps to reduce your salty ways in 21 days.
The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of The American Heart Association | American Stroke Association. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them. The American Heart Association’s blog is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. Only your healthcare provider can provide that. The American Heart Association recommends that you consult your healthcare provider regarding your personal health matters. If you think you are having a heart attack, stroke or another emergency, please call 911 immediately.