Can I Have Some Salt With That?

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • IOM Latest Position on Salt

    We are a nation that eats too much salt.  A report issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently, suggests that despite the efforts of the health community, and a public policy that has attempted to nudge Americans to eat less salt, the average adult is consuming 3400 mgs. of sodium daily.  That, despite strong recommendations for most people to, at minimum, consume below 2300 mgs. of sodium, and for special groups with unique health concerns to consume below 1500 mgs of sodium daily.  The more strict guidelines refer to African Americans, adults over age 51, and anyone with health issues like pre-hypertension/hypertension, heart disease, diabetes or any kind of kidney disease. 
    The IOM report now suggests that many of the current studies seem to have used different ways of measuring sodium intake and then assessing the impact, leading to the studies' conclusions regarding the upper (and lower) cut off limit of daily sodium that should be used as a current guideline.  IOM position now is that 2300 mgs. is a reasonable target for most individuals, even those with ongoing health issues.  Further research needs to look at the differential impact of the 1500 mg. lower limit and whether or not it really does offer additional health benefits, especially for the 3 target groups.
    The bottom line is that whether you are motivated to shoot for the 2300 mgs. of sodium daily or the even lower recommendation, we all need to cut the salt habit.  How do we do that without sacrificing taste?
    First some tips to help you buy less salt:
    • Buy less processed foods because they notoriously have salt - soups, frozen meals, breads
    • Buy less deli meats
    • Buy less canned goods or learn to "rinse" the contents in a colander to get rid of the salt
    • Look for "low sodium" labels
    • Don't add salt to foods that you are cooking, like pasta and sauces
    • Lose the high sodium condiments like soy sauce
    • Eat out less because most restaurants use a lot of salt
    Now the replacements:
    • There are "salt substitutes" that have no or very low sodium content
    • Dried herbs can bump up flavor without sodium
    • Fresh herbs and vinegars can also add flavor without sodium
    • Mustard is a great condiment to mix with small amounts of healthy oils and vinegar to create a tasty marinade or sandwich spread
    • Sautéed or marinated vegetables can bump up flavor without adding sodium
    • Pickle relish, sauerkraut and salsa can add flavor
    • Lemon juice, orange, juice and wine can be used in marinades to flavor without sodium
    • Chili peppers, small amounts of dried fruits, and sesame seeds can help to boost flavor without salt
    • Herb rubs - made by combining 3 or 4 dried herbs in a bag, mixing well, and then rubbing over meat, fish, poultry - can help tenderize and flavor without sodium
    • Roasted or sautéed garlic is a slam dunk for adding flavor to many simple dishes

    Amy Hendel is a health professional, journalist and host of Food Rescue, Simple Smoothies and What’s for Lunch?  Author of Fat Families, Thin Families and The 4 Habits of Healthy Families, she tweets health headlines daily @HealthGal1103.  Catch her guest appearances on Marie! on Hallmark and other local and national news and talk shows.   

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Published On: May 14, 2013