At work, people know me as “The Salt Lady”, yes that is right, you read correctly. As the Salt Lady, I am responsible for the Sodium Reduction public health initiative in Western New York. At various locations, I help analyze menu items and find ways to lower the sodium offered to the public. With February Heart Month and March National Nutrition Month, I thought this would be a great time to talk about salt on the blog.
DYK: Americans consume approximately 3,200mg of sodium per day!?
This statistic is shocking to me. What is even more shocking is how quickly sodium can add up. According to recommendations for adults, this number should be 2,300mg or even lower to 1,500mg for those with high blood pressure.
- 2 slices of whole wheat bread: 360mg
- 1 slice of cheddar cheese: 140mg
- 3 oz of deli turkey: 570
For a simple sandwich this adds up to 1,070mg. This doesn’t include other toppings or condiments which are also contributors of sodium.
The American Heart Association identifies six foods that contribute the most to high sodium intake. They are known as the Salty Six:
- Cold Cuts and Cured Meats
- Breads and Rolls
- Burritos and Tacos
Are any of the Salty Six part of your daily meals? Here are a few ways to reduce your sodium from day-to-day:
1. Use Spices!
Most of us have a variety of spices in the cupboard, so why not put them to use? By using oregano, parsley, basil, red pepper, or paprika, you can add flavor to your dish without the need for salt. You can also make your own spice blend. Instead of buying taco seasoning mix which for 2 teaspoons is around 380mg of sodium, make your own using cumin, paprika, red pepper, garlic, chili powder, paprika, and onion powder. It tastes & smells great! A bonus is that many spices contain vitamins and minerals and are anti-inflammatory.
2. Read Labels and Health Claims
A can of diced tomatoes can contain over 200mg of sodium per half cup serving. Look for a label stating “No Salt Added” or “Low Sodium” or “Reduced Sodium”. Be sure to look at the nutrition facts label. When a certain nutrient is removed, companies usually add it somewhere else, such as sugar or fat. This rule applies to canned products, deli meats, and frozen processed foods. When navigating the frozen isle, stay away from words such as “crispy”, “fried”, or “breaded”. Even the precooked chicken is high in sodium.
3. Eat More Fruits and Veggies!
Whether it’s fresh, frozen, canned, or packaged, eating more fruits and veggies can help lower your sodium intake. FRESH: I always try my best to buy fresh produce. When cooking for one, I need to be conscious not to overbuy and waste food. This is when FROZEN foods come in handy! Some of my favorite frozen foods are:
- Diced peppers and onions: these are perfect for personal pizzas, scrambled eggs, or saute and add to a quinoa bowl.
- Mixed berries or fruit: frozen fruit does not contain sodium but may include added sugar. Frozen fruit can be used for smoothies, oatmeal, or toppings for French toast.
CANNED: Remember to check the label! Rinsing canned veggies can cut up to 40% of sodium!
CHALLENGE: Spice up your life one day this week by using one of these tips.