We’ve all heard that too much salt in the diet is bad for one’s health. Whilst salt may make your meal taste good, too much can lead to overworked organs, inflammation from fluid retention and serious diseases. Whilst one cannot avoid salt entirely, you can make smarter choices to control your sodium intake. Here are six ways to cut back on salt.
Why you should cut back on salt
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa (HSFSA), one only needs 5g (1 level teaspoon) of salt per day to stay healthy. Salt helps to maintain the correct balance of water and minerals, conduct nerve impulses and contract and relax muscles. However, too much salt can cause high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. By simply decreasing your daily sodium intake, you can reduce your risk of these serious conditions.
Six ways to cut back on salt
- Downsize meal portions
Portion size is key to controlling one’s sodium intake. For example, bread may be high in sodium. By reducing the amount of bread you consume on a daily basis, you can cut back on your sodium intake. Remember, the more calories a meal contains, the more sodium it has.
- Cut down on processed foods
Processed and fast food are known to contain very high levels of sodium. However, with fresh foods or freshly prepared meals, you can control how much salt is added. Often, processed meals do not have the same amount of nutrients as fresh foods.
- Eat more fresh fruit & veg
We need more potassium than sodium so be sure to fill half your plate with fresh fruit and vegetables. The ‘Plate Model’ recommends ½ of your plate consists of non-starchy vegetables, ¼ of high fibre starches and ¼ of your plate consists of lean protein.
- Train your taste buds
Medical research suggests that you can shift your sense of taste to enjoy foods that contain lower levels of sodium. The key is to introduce these changes slowly over a period of time as opposed to cutting down on salt immediately. To get started, combine a reduced sodium version of vegetable soup with a regular version. In time, your tastebuds will adapt to the lower sodium version and you won’t miss the salt.
- Embrace healthy fats & oils
Including healthy fats and oils to your diet, will not make you gain weight. Unhealthy fats can raise cholesterol levels. They are generally found in pies, pastries, fatty and processed meats, fast and deep-fried foods to name but a few. Opt for healthy fats and oils like avocado, coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, nuts and seeds, eggs and certain varieties of fish.
- Exchange salt for other spices
Substitute the salt you add to your meals with other ingredients like spices, dried and fresh herbs, garlic and ginger, vinegars, wine, and lemon juice. These flavours will enhance your meal and drastically reduce your sodium intake.
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