A low salt diet is an effective way for many people to lower their blood pressure. On average, the higher a person's salt intake the higher a person's blood pressure.
Salt is technically referred to as sodium chloride because it's primarily composed of the elements sodium and chloride. The body needs some sodium to function properly. Sodium helps maintain the right balance of fluids in the body, helps transmit nerve impulses, and influences the contraction and relaxation of muscles. But many people consume too much sodium.
Most of the sodium in a person's diet comes from salt, so a low salt diet will keep sodium intake within a healthy range. On average, the natural salt content of food accounts for only about 10% of a person's total salt intake, while salt added at the table provides another 5-10% of a person's intake. The majority of a person's salt intake comes from salt added to food during processing or cooking.
Here are seven tips for following a low salt diet:
1. Remove salt from recipes whenever possible.
You can leave out the salt in many recipes, including stews, casseroles and other main dishes. Baked goods are an exception. Leaving out the salt could affect the quality as well as the taste of the food.
2. Read ingredient labels to identify foods high in sodium.
Once you start reading ingredient labels, you'll quickly become aware of how much sodium is in many cereals, breads, canned goods, frozen foods etc. Having an awareness of how much sodium you're consuming will make reduction a lot easier.
3. Eat more fresh foods and fewer processed and packaged foods.
Most fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium. Fresh meat is lower in sodium than luncheon meat, bacon, sausage, hot dogs and ham.
4. Limit your use of sodium-laden condiments.
Salad dressings, sauces, dips, ketchup, mustard and relish often contain high amounts of sodium.
5. Use herbs and other flavorings to enhance foods.
Season your food with fresh or dried herbs, sea salt, pepper, fresh garlic or onions, fresh lemon or lime juice, ginger and salt-free seasoning mixes.
6. Use salt substitutes and light salts wisely.
Salt substitutes and light salts often contain a mixture of salt and other compounds. To achieve that familiar salty taste, you may use too much of the salt substitute or light salt and actually not reduce your sodium intake.
7. Be careful when dining out.
Many foods served at restaurants, especially fast food restaurants, are high in sodium. When dining out, words that signal high sodium include smoked, barbecued, pickled, soy sauce, creole sauce, mustard sauce, cocktail sauce, marinated, tomato base, Parmesan and teriyaki.
In conclusion, following a low salt diet is really not that difficult. Your taste for salt is acquired, so it's reversible. If you gradually decrease your use of salt, your taste buds will adjust.
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