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Finding And Cooking Low Sodium Foods helps us lower our risk of serious disease by helping us make low-salt choices at the supermarket, restaurant and while cooking and eating in our own homes.

Finding And Cooking Low Sodium Foods

Why Less Salt?  Sodium is necessary for life, but not in the vast quantities most of us eat.  Since it aids in preserving food and adds flavor, sodium is added to almost everything prepared, packaged or frozen.  If we never added salt to anything we ate or cooked, we would still get more than enough in our diet.  In addition to it's good qualities, sodium causes high blood pressure and weight gain.  These lead to a number of fatal diseases, including the big three...diabetes, cancer and cardio-vascular diseases.  You can see it's important to manage the salt in your diet.  It's also easy to manage, whether you're in the supermarket, the restaurant or cooking in your own home.

Prepared Food Labels And Sodium:  First, shopping to lower sodium is a matter of balance.  You can't rule salt out of your life.  The trick is to buy less of the things with high sodium levels.  So, it's important to know how much is in there.  That's where the food nutrition labels are handy.  They tell you how much sodium is in each per serving.  For prepared meals, (soups, frozen dinners, entree, chili, etc.) I use the "500 rule."  If it's around 500mg per serving, it's OK.  You'll see foods with sodium as high as 2,000 mg per serving.  That's almost as much salt as you should have in a whole day, packed into one little serving.  You really can't go wrong in the fresh fruits and vegetables section.  Though celery is high in sodium, it would take a lot of celery to cause a problem.  Canned vegetables do have added sodium...some have a lot.  Sauces and dressings usually have a bunch of sodium.  Once we make a habit of reading the labels, it's easier to make the right choices in the supermarket to lower the sodium we eat.  The most difficult place is the restaurant.

Eating Out With Less Salt:  As we learned in the supermarket, sodium is in most of the foods we buy.  So, if they didn't add salt in their recipes, restaurant food would already have plenty...but they do add salt...usually lots of it.  I used to work as a me about the salt.  That's what make restaurant food so tasty and what keeps us coming back for another meal.  If we're watching our salt, we should eat out less often and follow three simple rules when we do:1.  Ask for dressings and sauces on the side.  Dressings and sauces are added to foods for flavor.  For instance, if you get them on the side, you can add as much or as little as you want, getting the flavor, but controlling the amount of salt. 2.  Plan for a doggy bag.  I know!  Our parents taught us to clean our plates so we could have dessert.  You're in charge, now.  Most restaurants give you at least twice as much food as you need in one sitting.  To limit the salt, cut the servings in half and take half home for a snack. 3.  Shake the shaker habit.  We went out with another couple for hamburgers one day.  We were served one large dish of fries.  I was horrified when, without tasting them, he dumped salt all over the fries.  The salt shaker is a bad habit many people have.  Restaurant fries already have salt on them.  The Catsup you dip them in has lots of salt.  The hot sauce you put on them has salt.  You really don't need the salt shaker in the restaurant.

Cooking Low Sodium Foods: Since we learned at the supermarket how much salt is already in our food, adding more while cooking just doesn't make sense.  At home, it's more sensible for each to use a salt shaker if they wish to add flavor.  Marsha and I don't even know where our salt shaker is.  Several pastry recipes require salt for the recipe to work.  This is not the case with any meats, poultry, fish or vegetable.  Homemade soups use a soup base (or cube) loaded with salt.  Canned beans and tomatoes have enough salt to flavor the whole dish of spaghetti or chili.  We can usually just line out the salt in our list of ingredients and still have plenty of flavor.  With vegetables, try fresh ground pepper or garlic powder (not garlic salt) instead of salt.  Cooking at home is where you have the most control over the salt in your diet.

You can lower the sodium in your foods whether you're shopping, eating out or cooking at home.  We start by knowing salt is in everything and limiting those things that are high in salt.  Before long, our tastes change and we begin liking the natural flavor of the foods rather than the salt we used to add to them.  It's possible to cut our average salt intake in half without giving up anything in flavor.  Yes, you can!

A Healthy Life:  Usually, we're seeking something more than just a balanced diet when we choose to eat right.  We want a healthy life...not just a meal.  Such a life requires balance in mind, body and spirit.  You can get help to achieve this balance by the One who designed us...God.  If you want His help to have a healthy life, visit Healing From God.

What are your salt control techniques?

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