Break the salt habit

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Salt has almost become synonymous with food (well, that and sugar).  However, it seems that most packaged foods including everyday seasonings have salt or sodium chloride (NaCl) in it. Unless you cook all your meals from scratch without any manufactured ingredients, you’ll probably eat salt several times a day. 

 A study from Harvard Medical School has linked the American diet and its excessive intake of salt to “2.3 million deaths worldwide.”  They claim salt played a huge part in heart attacks, strokes and other heart-related problems and that salt-related deaths accounted for 15-percent of all heart-related deaths in 2010.  In fact, of the 30-developed nations in the study, the U.S. ranked 19th in terms of salt-related deaths (which equates to more than 400 deaths per million) and “translates to one in 10 of all heart-related deaths.”

Sadly, we can’t avoid salt together but there are steps we can take to cut down on consumption. Here’s what you need to be aware of:

  • Limit your intake of bread and rolls – they’re the number one source of sodium in the U.S. diet.
  • Be mindful of cold-cuts, processed and cured meats as they can be very high in sodium.
  • Pizza, popcorn, puffs, chips and pretzels (all the good stuff)—they should be eaten in moderation.
  • Processed poultry: raw chicken is usually injected with a sodium solution before it’s sold in groceries.
  • Pre-packaged soups, fast-food cheeseburgers, and cheese are loaded with salt to preserve and enhance the taste.
  • Man all-purpose seasonings already have salt, which adds to the salt you’re using to season food; use spices and herbs instead (but read labels as some still include salt). If you do use salt, sea salt or Himalayan (pink salt) is better that table salt.

 Also, remember sodium content on labels is per serving and not per package; read labels and do the math – it does add up. Finally, try different brand products as some have less sodium than others. And check for sugar and fat content, as well; some manufactures replace salt with either more fat or sugar or both.

With so much to look out for, do you find it tiring to keep up with all the things you should and shouldn’t do? How do you manage your salt intake?

A journalist by trade, Corinne has written for both the military and civilian populations. She has a Master's in Writing and Bachelor's in English. She is also a military spouse and her family is currently stationed at Fort Hood.

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