Are you a salt addict? Do you know one? Do you put salt on your food before you even taste it? Even after you taste you meal, do you immediately reach for the salt shaker? Have you ever licked the salt off a pretzel? Ok maybe I exaggerated on that one, but it is a serious issue.
First of all, do you know how much salt or sodium you are supposed to have? In Canada, for an adult the recommended daily allowance of salt is 1000 to 1500 mg. If you are over 50 (like me) that drops back to 1300 mg. That sounds like a lot right? You don’t hit that amount, do you?
Well let’s look at a few common foods where salt “hides”. Fast food? Burger Kings own nutrition information page says a medium fries is 526 mg. A 6 piece order of McDonald’s chicken nuggets is 670. Ever have one of those yummy baked potatoes at Wendy’s? A cheese and bacon baked potato is 930 mg. That is more than half of your day’s allowance in one potato!
Ever have those cup of noodles? They are a staple for some college students and some office workers. Ramen Noodles Nutrition labels says 1 serving (1 cup) is 1434! Mr.Noodle is slight better at 940.
I remember once seeing Pringles Potato Chips advertising 30% less salt. Regular Pringles per serving (which is approximately 16 chips – when was the last time you counted out 16 chips?) has 220 mg.
Certain brands of canned soup have serious amounts of salt in them as well. Some of them lately have been saying “We have listened and lowered our salt content.” Even the lowered amount can be staggering.
Other culprits in the hide the salt game include things like bacon, process meats, corned beef, sausages and more.
It’s not all in bad food. Even a bowl of oatmeal has 50 mg, but like sugar, a lot of salt is hidden in some of your favourite foods. Spaghetti sauce can have as much as 800 mg in 1/2 a cup. Things like ketchup, barbecue sauce, and salad dressings have lots of hidden salt.
So what’s the big deal with salt? Well in terms of weight loss it can be a serious hindrance simply from the water retention that can be caused by salt. I remember I used to belong to a networking group that met at a local restaurant one evening a week, and the next morning when I weighed in at my TOPS group I could be up. I finally traced it back to the amount of salt they used.
There are lots of reasons to cut back on your salt intake from a health point of view. Ask your doctor!
I can hear the complaints now. “But food is so bland without salt.” First of all, we do need SOME salt in our diets, but not what some of have been using. So what is the solution?
If you use packaged foods (which is not ideal) read the labels and look at the amount of sodium per serving and the percentage of your day’s total.
When you cook, use herbs and spices instead of salt. Watch the salt substitutes though – they can be as bad as salt. I am talking about using real herbs and spices. Herbs and spices add flavour to your cooking without adding salt or fat. Be careful which herbs and spices you use though. Some commercial brands have fillers and other non-food stuff in them
You know when you buy a purse of camera bag and they have those silica packs in them? What do they say on them? Do Not Eat. You are thinking, well duh, who does.
A lot of commercially made spices use the same or similar kinds of silica to prevent caking. If you use fresh spices and your spices get lumpy, you just bang the jar on a counter! Try to get pure herbs and spices, even buying them in specialty shops if necessary. A lot of ethnic markets have good spice selections because a lot of cultures outside of North America use spices and herbs to enrich their cooking.
Try roasting vegetables with some fresh herbs or spices instead of salt. In some cases, use pepper instead of salt on things like eggs. Try dill on fish, or fresh oregano in your tomato sauce. There are lot of ways to use them.
Do some research on the internet into herbs and spices. Try looking for salt free recipes and see what spices and herbs are used with what types of foods. To get you started here are a few herb and food match ups.
Dill (potatoes, tomatoes, fish and green beans).
Oregano (tomatoes, chicken and green beans).
Rosemary (lamb, chicken, potatoes).
Sage (beef and potatoes).
Marjoram (soups, peas and summer squash).
Thyme (beef, chicken, potatoes).
Cinnamon or nutmeg (soups, squash, carrots)
Cloves (fruit, beef)
Curry powder or cumin (corn, tomatoes, fish)
I do most of the cooking in our house as I work from home and my wife works outside of the house. Since I started using more spices and herbs and less salt, I find my food is tastier and more satisfying. I often find an interesting thing is that I eat less because the food have more flavour and I am satisfied more.
Women are not the only ones who can retain water. I find when I take in too much salt, I get rather “puffy” and it shows on the scale. Another thing that goes hand in hand with the reduction of your salt intake, drink lots of water. We are supposed to be doing that anyway, right?
I am not saying making a huge change, but cut back and make some substitutions. I think you will find you food has more flavour and you may be carrying less water.
Until next time, have a healthy and happy day!