You might have heard of ‘salt’ being referred to as ‘sodium chloride’. Sodium chloride forms a portion of salt and is the contributing factor to the increase in blood pressure. As most of us are eating more than the recommended daily amount of sodium chloride (2500 mg, which equates to 6 grams of salt) we need to think about cutting down our sodium chloride intake in an effort to preserve the longevity of our hearts.
Play around with spice combinations to add flavour to your food.
If you gradually reduce your salt intake, you shouldn’t notice a difference. In fact, you will be amazed at how quickly your taste buds can adapt to dietary changes! Try adding some mixed herbs or play around with spice combinations that will enhance the natural flavours of your food.
Here are 10 easy ways in which to enjoy a healthy diet, and ensure healthy living, by reducing the amount of salt that you consume:
COOK FROM SCRATCH
By cooking your food from scratch, you can control the amount of salt added to the recipe. Look for heart healthy recipes with high-fibre, low fat and wholegrain ingredients.
Hide the saltshaker.
HIDE THE SALTSHAKER
Avoid adding salt to the water when you cook potatoes, pasta or rice. Put the pepper mill on the dinner table, but leave the saltshaker out of sight. If you do need to add salt to your recipes, use a low sodium chloride salt.
DITCH THE DELI
Make sandwiches with roasted or grilled meats instead of canned or processed deli meats (most of which are either packed or preserved with sodium chloride).
Ditch the deli.
USE FRESH OR FROZEN FIRST
Cook with fresh or frozen vegetables and fresh, frozen or dried beans whenever you can. If you’re cooking with canned veggies or beans, give them a rinse before you cook them as this will wash away some of the salt that has been added.
READ NUTRITION FACTS LABELS AND INGREDIENTS LISTS
Don’t forget to check the labels on food packaging. Salt often appears as sodium chloride on food labels (6 grams of salt is equivalent to 2.5 grams of sodium chloride). For pre-prepared foods, look at the ‘amount per serving’.
BUY LOWER-SODIUM AND SODIUM-REDUCED FOODS
Look for the words “salt-free,” “reduced-salt,” “low sodium chloride” or “no sodium chloride added” on food packages to ensure that you are not consuming excessive amounts of salt in your daily meals.
ADDING EXTRA FLAVOUR TO YOUR FOOD
Experiment with different herbs and spices to enhance the flavour of your food without the extra salt.
Skip the salty snacks.
BE SMART WITH YOUR SNACKS
Skip the salty snacks and watch out for processed foods such as crackers, nachos, potato chips and pretzels, cheese, gravies and sauces, processed meats, canned or dried soups and frozen meals. Instead, snack on fresh fruit and veggies, unsalted popcorn, nuts and crackers.
REDUCE SODIUM CHLORIDE WHEN DINING OUT
Pizza, sandwiches, hamburgers and hotdogs are the top sources of sodium chloride in our diet. When you’re dining out, choose lower-salt dishes. Also consider ordering smaller, sensibly sized portions, or share a dish with a friend. If possible, check out the restaurant’s menu and nutrition information ahead of time.
It’s going to take some time for your taste buds to adjust to eating sodium chloride-reduced foods and adding less salt to your meals, but it will happen! And remember, every small change you make is a step towards achieving better heart health.