Better Your Health: Alternatives To Reduce Sodium Intake

Being a first time dad led me to be concerned about the food that my three year old daughter eats. Among the ingredients which caught my attention the most is the sodium. And little did I know that…

Sodium has been getting a lot of attention lately. It is said that most of us eat far more than our bodies need, which may cause or exacerbate a host of health problems. In fact, excessive sodium may reduce your absorption of calcium, cause you to retain water, and stress your kidneys.

Because of these health concerns, more and more people are trying to shake their sodium habit. But how? Here are some tips.

1. Know where it’s hiding

Excessive sodium intake does not come from the salt shaker alone. One of the problems with sodium is that it lurks in pre-made foods, from fast food to frozen dinners. Even store-bought sweets can contain a decent amount of sodium. Some common foods that contain sodium are:

* Pickles

* Canned foods

* Deli meats

* Deli foods like chicken wings, potato salad, and so forth

* Poultry injected with “broth” or “saline/salt solution”

* Frozen meals and pre-prepared foods (not whole frozen fruits and vegetables)

So make sure to read labels when they’re available, and to ask about sodium content on unlabeled foods such as restaurant fare. Many canned foods are now available in “no salt added” varieties. (Many labels list their sodium content in grams. It helps to know that 1 teaspoon of salt is about 6 grams.)

2. Boost flavor

When cooking at home, try to focus on enhancing flavor in other ways besides pouring on salt. Begin by using whole, fresh foods; pre-made, pre-packaged, pre-cooked foods tend to have added salt. Here are some flavor-enhancing tips.

* Lemon juice can really help satisfy the urge for a salty taste. On foods such rice, whole grains, fish, and steamed or sauteed vegetables, try a generous squeeze of lemon juice before adding any salt. Lemon juice also helps enhance the flavor of many soups.

* Vinegar is another tart taste that helps your taste buds cope with less salt. Apple cider vinegar has a more complex flavor than white. Try it sprinkled on fish and vegetables, and added to soups.

* Tomatoes also add tartness, acidity, and flavor complexity to a variety of dishes. Use fresh, ripe tomatoes or no-salt-added canned ones for most recipes. Diced green tomatoes can also add tartness to dishes.

* Flavorful herbs and spices can reduce your desire for salt. Mustard, ginger, cumin, onion, garlic, and other strong-tasting herbs and spices help keep your mouth happy with less sodium.

3. Use different salts

The use of sea salt, kosher salt, rock salt, Himalayan salt, and other varieties is said to reduce sodium intake due to the greater flavor of these salts. In other words, you may find you don’t need to use as much salt to achieve the most flavor. Coarse salts like kosher, when sprinkled on the outside of foods, add crunch and salty flavor in small amounts.

Another source of salty taste is in dried sea vegetables, like kelp. You can get these pre-granulated, and sometimes even in a shaker like salt.