“Eliminate salt.” Seems like an easy directive to follow, right? Simply put down the salt shaker and walk away. Too bad it’s not even remotely that easy for those trying to significantly cut back their sodium intake. The Dietary Guidelines posted in 2010 recommend decreasing sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day for healthy individuals and no more than 1,500 milligrams per day for those with high blood pressure or those in high-risk groups for developing high blood pressure. When you consider just a couple shakes of table salt can have 2,000 mg or more of sodium, not counting what’s already present in food and it’s easy to see how dietary recommendations are being exponentially exceeded. The solution – cut hidden salt out from the source.
When you eat a diet composed of mainly fresh, whole (non-processed) foods, you’ll notice very little (if any) sodium is present unless you add it yourself. This is the ideal way to know exactly how much sodium is present in your daily diet. With every level that food is processed, there becomes a need to preserve (or add) flavor or ensure freshness/reduce spoilage. In addition to providing taste, salt is also extremely effective in making foods last longer.
Take a look at the meats and cheeses in your local supermarket deli case – they’re likely loaded with sodium. Even the low-sodium varieties are likely to carry two or three times the recommended allotment of sodium for a healthy adult. Then, take a look at the baked goods aisle. This is one of the sneakiest sources of dietary sodium, mostly because you don’t overtly notice a salty taste. Breads, rolls, even cookies almost all contain salt as an ingredient unless otherwise marked on the label. Think a cup of soup sounds safe? Not unless you make it yourself from fresh meats and veggies. Canned goods of all kinds are notorious for being loaded with salt. It helps preserve them for months or years on the supermarket or pantry shelf. Soups are one of the biggest offenders with additional salt added for taste and flavors that may have been cooked out of foods prior to preparation. Feeling frustrated, you might decide on just a simple salad… but reach for the salad dressing and you might undo anything good that came from that decision. Even simple dressings may seem innocent on the outside (Olive Oil and Garlic for example) but flip over the label and you’ll notice a healthy dollop of salt has been added to the recipe. Instead, opt for making your own salad topping with fresh herbs, olive oil, and a splash of white wine or red wine vinegar.