Not just good for bland, almost flavorless dishes but also a great flavor enhancer. Salt, which is sodium chloride, is a trace mineral and we need it for a wide variety of uses in our body since we can’t produce it on our own. Among those benefits are regulating hydration levels in the body, aids in thyroid-related functions, and of course, it’s what makes French fries taste so good.
As a flavor enhancer, salt makes everything taste good. But, according to the FDA, On average, Americans consume at least 3,400 mg of sodium per day. However, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adults limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day which comes to approximately around 1 teaspoon of table salt. More doesn’t necessarily mean better. Because higher salt intake is associated with an increased risk for heart-related problems, obesity, and high blood pressure.
So here are some ways on how to control or healthily use salt in your diet;
1. Watch the label - and learn how to read, or at least have an idea about nutrition facts, which you can read here. Knowing the DV/Daily Value intake can help in keeping track of your sodium intake. Especially if you are suffering from chronic diseases like high blood pressure, and hypertension.
2. Eat More Fruits and Veggies - Most fruits and vegetables contain almost little to no salt. Not just low in sodium, there is also the added benefit of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are good for the body.
3. Learn to cook at home - The problem with the overconsumption of sodium, most of it is from consuming processed foods that are loaded with sodium. Since salt is not just for enhancing flavors but also suppressing bitterness, texture enhancer, and a good preservative. Home-cooked meals mean you can control the amount of salt that you put into them.
4. Substitute it for some herbs and spices - Instead of opting for that salt shaker or thinking sea salt is a better substitute for table salt. Which is not true. How about using dried/fresh herbs to enhance the flavor of your meals. Another option is using citrus fruits like lemon to give that little zing.
When it comes to the excessive use of salt, sometimes cutting back on it, takes a while to get used to. So just take it slow as you gradually ease into the much more controlled salt intake. But just like any dietary adjustments, it is better to seek the advice of a board-certified physician or healthcare practitioner/provider. For he or she can give you an actual assessment on what would be best for your diet.
Food Processing Salt Functionality Beyond Flavor. Cargill. (n.d.). https://www.cargill.com/salt-in- perspective/function-of-salt-in-food.
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2019, June 29). Sodium: How to tame your salt habit. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and- healthy-eating/in-depth/sodium/art-20045479.
Petre, A. (2020, July 9). What Happens If You Eat Too Much Salt? Healthline. https:// www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-happens-if-you-eat-too-much-salt.
Delahaye, F. (2013, April 11). Should we eat less salt? Archives of Cardiovascular Diseases. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1875213613000302.