KHQ MD: How to be a Salt DetectivePosted: Updated:
Sandy Zobell is a registered dietetic technician who has worked at Deaconess Medical Center for 18 years. She is a nutrition educator who is part of a team of nutrition professionals responsible for the clinical nutrition care of patients. Why is it so important to your heart health to limit your salt intake?
Sandy: High salt intake is linked to high blood pressure. People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke. Having less sodium in your diet may help you to avoid high blood pressure.
How much sodium is recommended for the average adult each day, and how much does an average American typically consume a day?
Sandy: The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2300 milligrams sodium per day – this is equivalent to ~1 teaspoon salt- even less is better! The average American consumes anywhere from 3500-4500 milligrams or more of sodium per day.
So it pays to become a salt detective- which foods are surprisingly salty?
Sandy: Most of the sodium in our diets comes from adding it when food is prepared or processed. Pay attention to the food labels – they tell us how much sodium is in food products.
* Watch out for the salt shaker and yes, watch out for sea salt...it too is just as high in sodium!
* Hidden salts: canned soups, canned veggies, pickles, olives, seasoning blends, lemon pepper, meat tenderizers, processed foods and pre-packaged mixes, luncheon meats, hot dogs, bacon, ham, salted snacks, baking soda and powder, MSG, condiments, over- the- counter drugs.
Best for your health is to buy fresh foods as often as possible. If you eat frozen convenience meals, look for products with fewer than 700 milligrams of sodium per serving. Rinse canned vegetables, beans and shellfish to reduce the salt.
What alternatives are there to seasoning your food with salt? Any suggestions on other seasoning blends to use, or do you have a recipe you would like to provide?
Sandy: Salt is an acquired taste...you learned it! Re-train your taste buds! Taste before you shake. Look for salt- free herbal blends. Use pepper, a splash of herbed vinegar or a squeeze of fresh lemon to flavor-enhance your foods.