Fast food is chock full of preservatives, including sodium. I was researching a presentation for a summer boot camp about fast food and was shocked at the sodium content. I knew it was bad, but when you really start looking, it is almost impossible to find something on the menu with less than half of the recommended daily intake. The American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines recommend less than 2400 mg per day. To put this in perspective, a teaspoon of salt (the size of the tip of my thumb) has 2000 mg of sodium. Why is too much sodium a bad thing? It can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. In addition, a diet high in salt content is often associated with weight gain. Moreover, recent research indicates that if Americans would moderately reduce their sodium intake, they would dramatically improve their health:
So what can you do to lose your salt tooth?
- When I am counseling, I tell people that salt is an acquired taste. So they need to cut back gradually. Don't immediately go to salt-free products. Try reduced sodium products instead.
- Try to consume more of your meals at home versus eating out. That grilled chicken sandwich from Chick-FilA might sound healthy, but it contains 1300 mg of sodium- more than half of your daily needs!
- Learn to use other spices and seasonings to flavor your food. Acids like wine, vinegar, or citrus juices bring out the flavors in foods without using salt. Also fresh herbs, garlic, onions or shallots can help ease the transition to lower-salt cooking by waking up other flavors. Also, look for salt free seasonings such as Mrs. Dash.
- Cut the salt in your pantry staples. It's no surprise that sodium is high in canned foods, but it is hiding in alot of other foods. Breakfast cereals, salad dressings, marinara sauce, and breads are some examples. Compare brands and make the better choice. Or you can also make your own. Check out this recipe for homemade marinara sauce. It's so easy and best of all, you can control the amount of sodium and sugar.
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 fresh beefsteak tomatoes, chopped or 14 oz can of no salt added tomatoes
1 small can of tomato paste
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar or red wine (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion until softened, usually about 4-5 mins. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the remaining ingredients and cook uncovered for about 10 mins. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!