Most South Africans are getting too much sodium from the foods they eat. If you are not already aware, the sodium found in salt (sodium chloride) plays a role in hypertension or high blood pressure. The current dietary guidelines suggest that adults and children 14 years and older need to have less than 2300 milligrams of sodium a day. Adults with hypertension need to reduce it further to 1500 milligrams a day as it may help to lower blood pressure.
Below are a few tips to lower your salt intake without compromising on flavour:
Focus on fresh foods – foods in their original form are most likely naturally low in sodium, for e.g. fresh meats, poultry, fish, eggs, yoghurt, milk, dried beans, fruits and vegetables and grains such as rice. Add these foods more often in meals and snacks.
Eat processed foods less often – ready-to-eat foods and highly processed foods are usually higher in sodium. Include these foods occasionally as part of a healthy diet especially cheesy pizza, cured meats such as sausages and deli meats, and convenience foods such as canned soups and “instant” flavoured noodles.
Enjoy more home cooked meals: there is no better way of controlling how much salt is added by cooking the meal yourself and adding little or no salt when cooking. When using canned foods that usually have salt added, be sure to drain and rinse the food items to lower the salt content before cooking.
Try new flavours – food can still have a ton of flavor by skipping the salt. Try salt-free seasonings such as herbs, spices, garlic, vinegar, black pepper or lemon juice. Get creative and make your own mix by combining herbs and spices. Try these out:
2 tsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. thyme
2 tsp. crushed rosemary
2 tsp. crushed red pepper
¼ cup chili powder
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground red pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
Be an educated consumer – read the typical nutritional information table and ingredients list of food labels to find the lower sodium options. Compare the items and select products with the lower amount. Look for foods labelled “low sodium”, “reduced sodium”, “lite” or “no salt added”.
Be careful with condiments – high sodium items include soy sauce, tomato sauce, pickles, olives and salad dressings to name a few. Consider the amount of sodium in these items before adding more salt when cooking or eating.
Give your taste buds a chance to adjust – change takes time so allow your taste buds time to adapt to less salt. Eating foods with less salt will taste different at first, but you will definitely acquire a taste for it.
I hope I have motivated you to live a less salty lifestyle. To be the first to access some low sodium recipes be sure to like my facebook page or follow me on Instagram.