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Summit Medical Group: Thrive - July 2019
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Here’s a Natural Way to Kick Your Salt Habit

Take a second and think about what food you nibble on during the day. Chances are, you’re likely eating too much salt.

The Problem with Sodium

On average, Americans eat more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day. The American Heart Association recommends a sodium intake of no more than 2,400 mg daily. However, the ideal limit is no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults, including those with high blood pressure or a heart condition.

Sodium causes your body to hold on to more fluid. This places extra demand on your heart and can lead to high blood pressure. When you have high blood pressure, you’re more likely to develop heart disease or suffer a stroke.

How to Cut Back on Salt

During the summer, some salt-heavy culprits are store-bought condiments. It is time to cut down how much you use or completely cut them from your diet. Use only a small amount of barbecue sauce, mustard, ketchup, horseradish, or pickles. Instead, flavor your food with garlic, herbs, and spices. Or make your own condiments. For recipes on healthier homemade condiments, visit heart.org and search for Healthier Condiments.

Cooking at home is another great step toward slashing your salt intake. That way, you can control exactly what goes into the meals you make. But just because you skip the saltshaker doesn’t mean your food is destined to be bland. Liven up your dishes with herbs and spices instead. Here are some ways to get the most out of these natural flavor boosters.

  • Grow an herb garden. All it requires are some pots, soil, sun, water, and plants or seeds to get growing. You can even grow fresh herbs on your windowsill. Then snip off pieces of herbs as you need them while cooking.
  • Finish with flavor. Add fresh herbs such as basil, cilantro, and parsley before serving to pack a punch.
  • Skip mixes. Premade seasoning packets are often loaded with sodium. Use salt-free spices instead. Some herb and spice blends may be OK but be sure to check the label.
  • Make your own vinaigrette. Instead of using salty, premade dressings, whisk together some olive oil, lemon juice, and fresh herbs. Pour your vinaigrette over cooked vegetables or broiled fish.
“Our taste for salt is an acquired taste,” says Mildred Bentler, Supervisor of Nutrition and Diabetes Education at Summit Medical Group. “As you reduce the amount of added sodium in your diet, you begin to appreciate the real taste of food and your taste buds become more sensitive to sodium, making some previously enjoyed foods taste too salty.”
Need Help with Your Diet?
Making substitutions for salt can help your health and bring a little pizazz to your plate. Our Nutrition Services team is at the ready to help you better manage your diet. If you’re interested in adopting healthier dietary habits, talk with one of our registered dietitian/nutritionists. Your body—and your taste buds—will thank you!
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