Sodium intake is a big problem in the United States. The average American consumes about 3,500 mg of sodium per day. The recommendation is no more than 2,400 mg per day for the general population and less than 1,500 mg for those that are 51 or older, African American, have high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease or type II diabetes. You can see that we far exceed the recommendation, mostly due to processed and restaurant foods. About 75% of the sodium consumption comes from eating out and packaged food. Therefore, the easiest and most effective way to slash sodium would be to eat more whole, real foods. But I do need to add that 1 tsp of salt = 2,300 mg of sodium. There isn’t a lot of room for seasoning foods with salt either.
Because of this, many wonder how to add flavor to foods without adding salt. There are so many ways! Our Resort chefs are great at using different spices, herbs and vegetables to add flavor while keep fat and sodium low. Guests often ask in the lecture for my recommendations on flavorings so when I came across a few helpful websites, I thought I should share them.
Shaking the Salt Habit (click on seasoning alternatives)
Each of these websites outline what seasoning pairs best with different types of vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, grains, etc. If you have a recipe that calls for quite a bit of salt, try substituting it for some of these alternatives. I think you will be pleasantly surprised!
I do want to emphasize that watching sodium intake is important for EVERYONE. High sodium diets have been linked with an increase risk for heart related events, even if you don’t have high blood pressure or aren’t considered to be “salt sensitive”. They also may play a role in osteoporosis, kidney disease, ulcers, gastric cancer, and asthma.
Again, by eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins while mostly avoiding highly processed and restaurant foods, your sodium levels will come down. Also, when buying packaged foods a good rule of thumb for judging sodium level is this: If there is less sodium than there are calories, the product will be low in sodium. If there is more sodium then there are calories, it will be high in sodium. Once you know if a product is high or low, you can pair it accordingly. For example, pair a high sodium soup with a side salad rather than paring the soup with high sodium crackers.
What are your favorite seasonings?
Emily Fonnesbeck RD,CD