Four Tips to Cut the Salt

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I was raised in a family where salt was a familiar staple in the kitchen and at the dinning room table.  A dash while roasting a chicken, a sprinkle before taking a bite of mashed potatoes, a shake over some freshly sliced tomatoes…and even on melon to make it sweater.  We consumed salt without even a thought or conversation on how it could be affecting our health.

We now know that many Americans consume way beyond the recommended daily allowance (1500mg/one teaspoon), which leads to diseases such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and kidney failure. Did you know that heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States and stroke is No. 3?

Cutting salt (sodium) in our diets can feel like a daunting task. It surrounds us where ever we go and especially when we’re dining out. Plus most of us have been programmed to think no salt= no flavor, but did you know that salt is an acquired taste? So just like you’ve learned to love it, you can learn to cut back.

#1.  ROAST YOUR FRUITS AND VEGGIES:  Most of us consume way below the recommended four to five servings of fruits and vegetables. Roasting is a tasty, low maintenance way to increase your consumption.  Grab sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, beets, or tomatoes and toss them with extra virgin olive oil, put them in the oven and sprinkle them with fresh pepper, garlic, or a dash of smoked paprika when finished. Cut an apple or pear in half, drizzle in olive oil and sprinkle with cinnamon and roast in the oven. DELICIOUS! No Salt Needed.

#2. MAKE IT A FAMILY AFFAIR:  Results are easier to obtain when everyone is on the same page.  Start with small steps. Make a family goal to reduce household sodium by 50% in two months. Identify the areas where your family consumes the most sodium. Explain to everyone why and how they can help. One person is in charge of making sure there are no salt shakers at the dinner table, another makes sure you choose low-sodium dishes when dining out or asks the chef to leave the salt out. Track your family progress and celebrate when you achieve your goals!

#3. GET IN THE KITCHEN: Dining out or ordering in is convenient but often many of the meals are filled with sodium and can put us over are recommended daily salt intake. Pizza, Chinese food, and hot wings are some of the biggest culprits.  Start cooking at home. If you’re pressed for time, cook larger meals and freeze half.  Extra vegetables and beans can be used on a salad the next day. Not only will you save a little money, but your salt intake will decrease.

#4. ADD A SQUEEZE OF CITRUS:   Like salt, lemon, lime, and other citrus fruits can enhance the flavor of your food.  Try a squeeze of lime and a dash of pepper in place of salt over roasted chicken.  The next time your sautéing green beans add lemon zest to the dish just before serving. Enjoy!

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