How Salty Are You?

Cutting excess salt in your diet is more than just being careful with the salt shaker at the table. In fact, only 6% of your daily sodium intake comes from salting your food when eating. About 5% comes from cooking and 12% from natural sources. The real problem is with processed and prepared foods, which account for over 77% of your daily sodium consumption. This means that even when you are careful about the amount of salt you add to your food; it may already be full of sodium to begin with. 

While sodium is essential to proper body functioning, too much can tax your kidneys, heart, and blood vessels. How much do you need on a daily basis? Experts recommend no more than 2,400 milligrams (mg) a day. If you have any existing conditions, such as kidney disease, cirrhosis, high blood pressure, or congestive heart failure, you should limit your sodium intake to about 1,500 mg each day. Be sure to talk to your doctor to find the right level for you.

How do you know how much sodium you are getting? One teaspoon of table salt has 2,325 mg of sodium. A tablespoon of soy sauce has about 900 mg. Even a cup of milk contains about 100 mg of sodium. Your best bet is to read the labels on the food you eat. Every food label will list the amount of sodium the product contains. Salt also comes in various forms. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), baking soda, baking powder, sodium nitrate, and sodium nitrite all contain sodium.

To cut sodium easily in your diet, try to eat fewer processed foods. Cook using more fresh meats and vegetables. You should also reduce the amount of salt you add when you cook. Don't forget that foods like salad dressings, sauces, gravies, and many condiments contain large amounts of salt. There are many low-sodium products available if you are still looking for convenience foods. 

If you are afraid that your food will taste bland, take heart. There are many ways to increase the flavor of your food without adding salt. Use more fresh or dried herbs and spices. Fruit juices and the zest from citrus fruits can also add flavor, as can natural aromatics. Garlic, onions, and celery are great flavor enhancers, too. 

Finally, you can reduce your desire for salt naturally over time. Decrease your use of salt gradually, and you will find that your taste buds adjust to the change. After a few weeks of cutting your salt intake, you will no longer miss it, and you will enjoy the taste of the food itself even more.

Stonebrook Village in Frisco, Texas hopes that these helpful tips will assist you in improving your overall daily lifestyle. 

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