Low Sodium Does Not Mean Low Taste
Sodium is essential to life. Our body uses sodium for many functions, including blood pressure moderation, the firing of our nerve cells, and maintaining the proper balance of fluids in our cells and soft tissues. However, most of us consume many times the amount of salt necessary to provide adequate sodium levels.
A low sodium diet is generally defined as consuming less than 2,000 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day. Benefits of eating a low sodium diet include reducing blood pressure, enhancing the effectiveness of high blood pressure medications, reducing the risk of a stroke, reversing heart enlargement, and reducing the chance of kidney stones and osteoporosis.
Sodium also pops up in unexpected places, like cottage cheese, San Pelegrino sparkling water and Alka Seltzer. Many water softeners remove iron from drinking water by adding salt. The only way to be sure how much sodium is in what you are eating is to read the label. Happily, the Federal government mandates clear labels on packaged foods that lists sodium content. Be sure to consider the serving size on the label. To my surprise, some of my favorite foods contain far more servings on the label than I ever accomplished at home!
Over a short period of time most people find that they need less and less salt yet they continue to enjoy their food. Now is the time to explore those spices gathered in the back of the cupboard! Experiment with pepper, garlic, cumin, paprika, curry and cinnamon. Celebrate the various ways to prepare potatoes and rice, maybe with a nice broiled salmon or chicken breast.
If you are dining out, ask that your food be prepared without additional salt. Try to avoid hard cheeses, croutons, and bacon bits on your salad, and (of course) ask for your low sodium dressing on the side. Avoid fast food to the degree possible. Their food is loaded with salt!
With a little care and creativity, you can adjust your habits (and recipes) so that your sodium intake is much lower without sacrificing flavor or variety. So get in the kitchen start cooking!