Many people may already be aware that eating too much salt can have negative health effects. Eating a lot of salt can increase blood pressure, which leads to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure and kidney disease.
It is recommended that adults should eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, which is equal to about a teaspoon of salt. It is beneficial to follow a low sodium diet even if you do not have high blood pressure in order to prevent it in the future. However, it is very important for individuals who already have high blood pressure to limit salt intake. The following are simple suggestions to better meet this goal:
- Season food with herbs, spices and sodium-free seasonings (such as Mrs. Dash or the spice blend recipes below) instead of salt.
- Read food labels. Choose most foods that contain 0 to 200mg of sodium per serving and avoid foods that contain more than 500mg.
- Take the salt shaker off the table. Lightly salt foods during cooking instead.
- Choose fresh foods. The majority of high-sodium foods are pre-packaged or processed foods, which increases the shelf-life of products. Select fresh meats and fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables.
- Watch portion sizes of condiments. Many condiments such as steak sauce, barbecue sauce, soy sauce, ketchup and mustard have a lot of sodium, so keep the portion to about a tablespoon.
- Eat more foods high in potassium. Examples include many fruits and vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, tomato products, bananas, oranges, cantaloupe and honeydew.
- Be aware of salt substitutes and sea salt. These are often promoted as healthier options, but they still contain large amounts of sodium as well and should be limited.
Spicy Steak Fries
2 large potatoes, unpeeled
2 tablespoons salt-free seasoning blend
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Wash and cut potatoes into wedges. Dry potato wedges on paper towels. In a large bowl, toss potatoes with spicy seasoning blend, oil and garlic. Spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and lay wedges on baking sheet.
Place potatoes in preheated 425-degree oven and bake for 20 minutes. Turn the potatoes and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray. Bake another 15 minutes or until wedges are browned and tender. Serves 4
Mexican Spice Blend
1/4 cup of chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon red pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
Combine ingredients and use for chili, tacos, chicken, pork and beef.
Mixed Herb Blend
1/4 cup of dried parsley
2 tablespoons of dried tarragon
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dill weed
1 tablespoon celery flakes
Combine ingredients and use on salads, steamed vegetables and fish.
April Hancock is a clinical dietitian with North Mississippi Medical Center.