Even though the National Institute of Health and the American Heart Association recommend no more than one teaspoon of salt (2,300 mg a day), most Americans gobble away almost twice that amount, any where between 4,000 to 6,000 milligrams of salt per day. If you or a loved one are trying to reduce the amount of sodium (salt) you eat, be aware of both any natural or added sodium content. And, the sodium can add up quickly. For example,
¼ teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
½ teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
¾ teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium
Here are some five sodium-slashing strategies:
- Shaker Shakedown: Switch your salt and pepper shakers. Put the pepper in the saltshaker for liberal seasoning and place the salt, lite salt or salt substitute in the pepper shaker. That way, no matter how hard you shake, you will not be able to add much sodium to your foods. Another option is fill your normal salt shaker with one of the popular supermarket herb seasonings mixes. Today, you have your choice of various ethnic seasonings or flavors without salt. Note: Look for sodium-
- Saucy Secrets: For those that are condiment crazy, replace your regular ketchup, barbecue, or steak sauce with condiments with less sodium and more spicy flavor, such as mustard, horseradish, or Tabasco (red pepper sauce).
- Can Do’s: When canned foods, like beans are used, drain any liquid and then rinse canned foods, such as vegetables, beans, tuna fish and sardines under cold water. The benefit is that the sodium can be cut by more than half.
- Fresh, Not Frozen: By selecting fresh, frozen or canned food items without added salts, all of which are available at most supermarkets, you can save on your sodium intake. In the packaged food area, aim for unsalted nuts or seeds, dried beans, peas and lentils. When you are cooking, most recipes will easily benefit from using unsalted, fat-free broths, bouillons or soups as well as low-sodium, low-fat cheeses. Obviously, after seeing the numbers of how much sodium is in table salt, you should refrain from adding salt and canned vegetables to any homemade dishes. Instead, use spices and herbs to enhance the taste of your food.
- Reach for Herbs: You may be surprised by the health value of what is in your spice rack, such as popular herbs garlic and sage. Let’s begin with the halitosis culprit, garlic that according to research can help to reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing blood cholesterol, which reduces your risk of clogged arteries. On a more fragrant note, consider sage that, according to some studies, can boost your memory. In fact, there are numerous other promising health benefits that might be found in your spice rack, such as cinnamon, which can help to lower your cholesterol and blood sugar. So, there are a lot of reasons to give up the salt shaker and replace it for adding more pizzazz and zest to meals with herbs and spices. Your body will thank you.
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Spicy It Up
By selecting herbs and spices, you can save on your sodium consumption and add aroma and several possible health benefits. Spices refer to dried plant products used primarily for seasoning purposes, such as cinnamon, cloves and pepper as well as herbs, such as basil, oregano and garlic or onion. The upside? Herbs and spices can add phytochemicals, which are natural health promoting substances. They have been found to protect us against diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
When substituting fresh for dried herbs in any recipes, plan on 1 tablespoon of finely cut fresh herbs for each teaspoon of dried leafy herbs, and ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground dried herbs. Fresh herbs are best, but for those people without green thumbs, experts believe that unopened spices have a storage life up to two or three years, depending on the spice. The longest shelf life is for whole spices, like peppercorns and cinnamon sticks. Ground spices and herbs are the more fragile. Any experienced cook or baker will tell you that old spices usually are not as fragrant and potent.
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