Salt; it’s found on nearly every dining table in shakers of all shapes and sizes. We add it to nearly everything, often without even thinking about it. Think about it; how many times have you heard someone say, “It needs more salt,” in the last week? How many times have you said it?
While salt is thought to be the miracle seasoning, eating too much can be detrimental to your health. Everyone enjoys (and they should) delicious salty snacks, but it’s important to know how much is too much, and to nix it altogether when you can.
Try it First
How often do you find yourself automatically adding salt to your food as soon as you sit down to eat? Perhaps it’s so second nature that you don’t even notice that you do it. It’s time to break that habit once and for all and start tasting your food before adding salt. The simple rule is; if it doesn’t absolutely need it, then don’t add it. You may even be taking away from the delicious tastes of some foods by masking them with salt.
Easy Ways to Cut Back
You may be eating a lot more salt than you realize, or you may think that cutting back means missing out on all of your favorite things. This is not the case; there are extremely simple ways to cut back on the amount of salt you are taking in without affecting your tastes or favorite snacks at all.
• Don’t shake salt directly onto your food. If whatever you are eating really needs salt, shake some into the palm of your hand so you can really see how much you are adding.
• Don’t add salt to your home cooking unless you absolutely have to. When following a recipe, use half the amount of salt specified. You can also try using salt-free seasonings in place of salt.
• When you eat out, ask for the salt to be left off of your food; particularly French fries and other fried foods that have salt added after.
• Avoid foods that you know are salty as much as you possibly can. Some of the worst foods include; French fries, potato chips, pretzels, and crackers.
• Learn to read labels. When you are grocery shopping, pay attention to the amount of sodium in the foods.
Know What it Does to Your Health
While you may have heard a thousand times that salt is not good for you, you may not know exactly why. Knowing the exact health risks that too much salt can cause may help you to leave the salt shaker sitting on the table.
• Nobody wants to walk around looking bloated all the time, but that’s exactly what too much salt will do. It increases swelling and water retention and can make you look puffy and unhealthy.
• If you already suffer from cataracts, diabetes, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, or kidney disease, salt can make these conditions worse.
• Excessive salt intake has also been linked to hypertension and high blood pressure. While that may not seem so bad, keep in mind that high blood pressure is a major factor that leads to heart disease and even premature death.
Cutting back on salt does not mean eating bland food for the rest of your life. There are plenty of ways to enjoy all of your favorite foods without racking up the sodium.
When cooking, try substituting salt with other seasonings. Experiment with different things until you find something that works. Who knows, you may even discover a way to make your favorite snack even more delicious.
Fresh or dried herbs are a healthy way to add a kick of flavor to any dish, and lemon or lime juice will add just the right amount of zest. Remember that fresh, natural things will taste better than processed and package, so buy herbs that haven’t been processed and put in seasoning jars, and use fresh squeezed lemon and lime juices.
Garlic; while it may not do much for your breath, it does wonders for your food. Garlic not only tastes amazing, it also enhances the flavor of your food. Other spices are also great, and you can experiment until you find something that you really like. Again, use fresh spices and freshly pressed garlic to make the most of your salt-free concoctions.
If you are a diehard salt junkie, you could consider switching to vegetable salt. This is a healthier alternative and can help you slowly wean yourself off of salt.
If you still find your food tasteless without salt, try giving it a little kick. Use chili powder, salsas, or other hot sauces to give your food an intense flavor. Even oregano and pepper can do wonderful things for your food.
Buying fresh vegetables and meat will ensure the best flavor and keep you from having to add so much salt. Buy the freshest produce you can and eat it right away so that the flavor is at its best. Speaking of vegetables, why not try replacing some of your favorite salty snacks with them? You can munch on celery and peanut butter instead of potato chips.
Don’t Set Yourself Up
If you are the type of person with no self-control when it comes to salty foods, then don’t tempt yourself in the first place. If you know that one chip, cracker, French fry, or pretzel is just going to lead to twenty more, then don’t even eat one in the first place. Why even buy them? If you truly want to eat less salt, stock your kitchen with healthy low-sodium items as your only options and you will find it much easier to stay away from the salt.
When shopping, look for your favorite foods that have “low salt,” or “no salt,” on the label. Even canned vegetables have “no salt added,” options. This way, you can enjoy all the foods you love but flavor them yourself with salt-free alternatives.