Although it can add some taste to food, limiting your intake of salt is important for your overall health. Higher salt intake is associated with high cholesterol levels, kidney tissue injury and damage to the muscles of the heart, stiffened arteries, and restricted blood flow throughout the body. The food that we cook at home only accounts for about 10-20% of the salt we consume. The other percent is from canned and processed foods which we buy at the store. Because using at least some canned foods is inevitable, it is important to take some steps to cut down your salt intake. Here are a few ideas on how to do this.
1. Cook at home as much as possible. Cooking with mainly fresh ingredients will cut down your salt intake dramatically. Skip the canned soup and make your own and that way you can add salt at your own discretion. If you have to use canned goods such as beans or chickpeas, be sure to rinse them in water first which will remove a lot of the salt.
2. Hit up your Spice Cupboard. Salt is not the only thing that adds amazing flavor to foods. Look through your spice drawer and try using a combination of spices to bring out the flavor in food and cut back on the amount of salt that you would normally add. Almost all spices are extremely high in antioxidants, so using them regularly can prevent premature aging and cancer.
3. Read the Label. On packaged and processed foods, look for lower-salt varieties whenever possible. In the ingredients list, watch out for other forms of sodium under the names of monosodium glutamate (MSG), baking soda, baking powder, disodium phosphate and any compounds that have the word sodium in it.
If you are a big salt lover, it may be a bit of a challenge to cut it out of your diet at first. The key is to make small changes to decrease your salt intake and gradually get to the point where you don’t even notice it is gone - the long term health benefits will be well worth it.