Many people choose or need to follow a low sodium – in other words, low salt – diet. Anyone who suffers from high blood pressure, water retention or heart problems will benefit from reducing the salt in their diet. For the record,a low sodium diet is one that contains between 1500 and 2400mgs of salt a day.
To give you an idea of how much salt that is, a level teaspoon is about 2300mgs, so you should aim for no more than that amount per day, and preferably much less. If you think that doesn’t sound much, you should know that your body only requires about 600g of sodium a day to stay healthy. Many people regularly consume up to 20 times that amount. Here’s how to ease yourself into a low sodium diet.
Cut out or cut down processed foods
Processed foods often contain extra salt, to improve the flavour and help preserve the food. If you can cut out or limit your intake of processed foods, you’ll automatically cut down the amount of salt in your diet. Choose low or no salt varieties of canned vegetables, and if you buy food canned in brine, such as fish or olives, rinse with fresh water and drain before serving, to remove most of the residual salt.
Bacon, canned and smoked meats, pies and ready meals all contain significant amounts of sodium. If you can’t live without these foods, at least limit them to the occasional treat. Salty snacks such as peanuts and potato crisps are off the menu for low sodium diets.
Read food labels
All packaged foods contain ingredient labels, listing the main ingredients and the content per serving. For a food to count as low sodium, it must contain less than 140g per serving. The lower the sodium content, the better. If salt figures in the top 5 ingredients on the label, there’s too much in it for a low sodium diet.
Fresh is best
A canned soup or frozen ready meal can contain more than 1500mgs of sodium per serving, so prepare your own food, so you can control the amount of salt. It’s possible to reduce the amount of salt you use in cooking gradually without even realising it, and at least if you season the food yourself, you can see how much salt is going in. Never, ever add more salt at the table.
Experiment with seasoning
Salt is not the only seasoning, you know. A little extra heat from chilli, white pepper or Worcestershire Sauce will add extra flavour and allow you to further reduce the salt content of the dish. Other combinations such as dried garlic, paprika and oregano also give flavour without resorting to salt. Experiment with your spice rack and see what you can come up with.
There is such a wide variety of foods and flavourings available these days, that eating a low sodium diet does not have to mean compromising on flavour, and it’s possible to reduce your salt intake gradually – it doesn’t have to happen overnight. Good luck in your campaign to slash the sodium!