Well, my topic of salt was good timing! The US Government’s Agriculture and Health and Human Services department issued a new version of the dietary guidelines this week. In the 2010 guidelines (yes 2010 guidelines just came out!), they were actually more specific on the sodium recommendations.
The new recommended sodium intake is less than 1500 mg per day for those who are 51 and older, African Americans, or those with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. FYI – this is half of America!! For the other half, it remains at 2300 mg or less.
Plus, remember that the average American consumes 3,400 mg of sodium a day. So just about everyone should probably do an honest assessment of how much sodium they are consuming!
Sodium in Your Diet
You might be thinking that you don’t add that much salt to your foods, so you don’t need to worry about this. In reality, most of the salt that we consume in our diets actually come from processed foods! This makes it very hard for us to be aware of how much salt we actually are consuming as these processed foods don’t necessarily taste that salty.
And restaurant foods are often LOADED with sodium. The big problem here is that there aren’t any nutrition labels on these foods so you really have no idea how much you are getting. Many chain restaurants will list nutrition information on their website.
What about they type of salt that you use? There are many different types of salt, including kosher salt, sea salt, etc. in addition to table salt. Kosher and sea salt are actually higher in minerals than table salt. Therefore, there is less salt in a tablespoon of kosher or sea salt than there is in a teaspoon of table salt.
By switching the type of salt you use, you can potentially cut the amount of sodium you take in, as long as you don’t compensate by using more of the “less salty” salt!
For more on different types of salts, check out this video!
It’s Not Easy! Practical Tips for Cutting Salt
Since 75 to 80 percent of the sodium we consume is added to food before we open a package or walk into a restaurant, it’s not so simple to cut sodium intake. That is, unless you make everything–including breads, crackers, cereals, soup, spaghetti sauce, salad dressing–from scratch. That doesn’t seem so practical to me though!!
However, as long as our groceries stores are stocked with salt infused food, the easiest way to control sodium intake is to make your own food and be a smart shopper! Here are some ways to start cutting out the excess sodium in your diet:
- Make your own salad dressing (see recipe below!)
- Season your own rice, couscous, or pasta. Don’t buy the flavored kind!
- Buy no-salt added canned beans, tuna, and tomatoes. Or use dried, frozen or fresh instead!
- Add salt-free vegetables, beans, or grains to high-sodium packaged or restaurant foods. You not only cut the salt in each serving, you boost the potassium. I have added frozen veggies to soup (like chicken noodle or vegetable soup) to dilute the sodium.
Yve’s Flavorful Vinaigrette
This recipe comes from my next door neighbor when I grew up. She’s french (Yvette), so you know it has to be good!
- ½ cup wine vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
- 1½ cups olive oil
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1½ t. dijon mustard
- 3 garlic cloves (you can use them whole or minced)
- basil (fresh, if available)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Put all the ingredients in a jar and shake hard.
- Refrigerate! (I found it to taste even better after 1 day of refrigerating)
- Can be used on a variety of salads including red potato salad, shredded carrot salad or cucumber&tomato salad. I have used it on tossed salad as well.