Thursday, April 25, 2013

Salt: The Silent Killer

Put down the salt shaker and slowly walk away! Those pure, white crystals look so innocent as they gleam in the shakers. Appearances sure are deceiving since high intake of salt is a major cause of high blood pressure, which ultimately leads to heart attacks and strokes. Just 1 teaspoon of salt contains about 2,400 mg of sodium. That is almost double the recommendation of 1,500mg of sodium (American Heart Association).

You may be thinking "I don't add salt to my foods, so I can't possibly be consuming that much sodium." Think again! About 77% of sodium comes from processed foods and foods eaten outside the home. The foods that contribute the most sodium, because of their frequent consumption, are: bread, cheese, deli meats, cakes, canned soup, and cookies. Even those "healthy" frozen dinner meals are prime suspects of high sodium content. 1 package of Boston Market's Homestyle Meal Beef Sirloin contains 2,270mg of sodium. 1 bowl of Uncle Ben's Teriyaki Chicken Rice contains 1,450mg of sodium.  Most restaurant meals provide more than a whole day's worth of sodium! For example, General Tso's chicken with rice contains 3,150mg of sodium.

Why is salt used if it leads to such horrible things, like high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes? In some foods, salt is used to help bacterial growth. It is also used to mask "off-flavors that develop during high-temperature processing and long storage.

Ready to shake the salt habit?! Look below for some tips on cutting back on your sodium! Your heart will thank you later.

Tips for Cutting Back on Your Sodium:
-Read the food label! Check how much sodium, per serving is in the product. Watch for the words "soda" and "sodium."
-Taste your food before salting it. Some people have a habit of adding salt, before they even taste the meal.
-Buy fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables "with no salt added."
-Choose "convenience" foods that are lower in sodium. Cut back on frozen dinners, pizza, packaged mixes, and canned soups or broths.
-Rinse canned foods, such as tuna, to remove some sodium.
-Try herb-seasoning packets or other spices in place of salt.

Home-Made Herb Seasoning
Combine all ingredients below in a shaker:
-1 teaspoon celery seed, ground
-2 1/2 tsp. marjoram, crushed
-1 1/2 tsp. thyme, crushed
-1 1/2 tsp. dried basil, crushed
-1/2 tsp. black pepper
*You can mix and match tons of different herbs!

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