This year, the Department of Health and Human Services issued new dietary guidelines for Americans. Among the guidelines was a recommended daily sodium intake of only 2400 milligrams of sodium (half a teaspoon). Americans currently consume more than three times this amount per day. That’s 7200 milligrams, or over 7 grams of salt!!!
Unless you pretty much snort table salt all day, you are probably wondering where all the sodium in your diet is coming from. It hides in a lot of prepared and canned foods, even in those foods labeled “healthy”. I was using an all-natural salad dressing, and thought it would be fine when I gave it the “label test” (reading the label). Turns out, it has 250mg of sodium per serving! That’s a 10% of my daily allowance, and I haven’t even eaten the meal yet!!
Well, I decided to do some investigating in my own kitchen cabinets to see where the salt adds up, and see if there are practical alternatives to help reduce the amount of salt in my own diet. Check out the findings, and check your labels at home.
Ways to reduce salt:
- Cut canned/pre-packed foods. As you will see from the chart below, canned foods have 20 times the sodium of their alternatives.
- CHECK LABELS! Especially condiments, bread, prepared and diet foods, and frozen meals; check anything that doesn’t come directly out of the ground. Trust me, the next time you go shopping, if you read the labels, it will change the way you eat.
- Use Sea Salt or Kosher Salt: Both have larger crystals and more flavor than regular table salt, so you need less. A pinch will do! Also, flavored salt, such as smoked, celery or garlic, packs more punch than table salt.
- Trade your Seasoned Salt for a salt free season blend, or one that has more whole spices. Old Bay Seafood seasoning has coriander seeds in it for more flavor, and is one I use.
- Pepper! Use pepper to add kick to foods. Try also using Crushed Red Pepper flakes (just a little if you are not used to heat), and you will not miss the salt, I promise!
- Experiment with other spices: such as ginger, garlic, cinnamon, oregano and sage. A bonus, many of them have healthful benefits[i]
- Use sodium free tomato paste and tomato sauce to make pasta sauces.
What did you find in your cabinet?
|Harmful (mg of sodium per serving)||Percent of recommendation per serving||Healthy option||Percent of recommendation|
|Canned sweet peas, (390mg)||16.2%||Steamed in Microwave Sugar Snap Peas (0mg)!||0%|
|Microwave Low fat popcorn, butter flavor(200mg)||8.33%||Microwave Kettle Corn(130mg)||5.4%|
|Canned Black Beans (390mg)||16.2%||Dry packaged black beans (20mg)||.08%|
|Canned Blackeye Peas(380mg)||15.8%||Dry packaged Blackeye Peas (15mg)||.06%|
|Dry Packaged Chicken Noodle Soup mix (760mg)||31.7%||Canned Chicken Noodle Soup (650mg)*||27.1%|
|Serving of Pre-made Pasta sauce in a Jar (550mg)||22.91%||My Spicy (almost) Salt Free Pasta Sauce||almost salt free 🙂|
[i] The Biggest Loser Weight Loss Planner, Prevention. 2011
Spicy and (almost) Salt Free Pasta Sauce (3 servings) 6 minutes
1 jar sodium free tomato paste
2 jars sodium free tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small pinch sea or kosher salt, optional
In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add tomato paste and stir for one minute. Add spices and tomato sauce, turn heat to low to simmer. Heat through until you can smell the garlic, stir every few minutes.
Toss with cooked pasta. Serve immediately.