How To Reduce Your Salt Intake? Follow These 14 Simple Steps
Why should you watch your salt intake?
Well, because too much sodium is a real heartbreaker. It causes your body to retain water, putting an extra burden on your heart and blood vessels. This can lead to high blood pressure, a precursor to heart disease. That’s not all. It can also increase your risk for osteoporosis, stomach cancer, kidney disease, kidney stones, headaches and lead to a puffed appearance and weight gain. So, keep it in check.
Follow these easy-breezy, very practical ways to cut down your salt intake drastically.
1. Beta-carotenes do miracles when it comes to cutting the risk of a stroke attack, so foods with a high concentration of such compounds should definitely be part of your regular diet. Some of the most common examples are carrots, cabbage, dark leafy greens, apricots, winter squash and sweet potatoes.
2. Use spices as alternative flavourings. Keep chilli flakes and black pepper powder on the table.
3. Use herb salts. Pick them from the market or make your own. Use herbs like coriander, parsley, mint, oregano, thyme (ajvaayin), and basil. Mix up the ones you prefer and with six parts of that mix add one part of table salt or make Gomasio – a special sesame salt – mix 5 parts of roasted and powdered sesame seeds with 1 part of salt. Japanese use this to reduce salt from the diet. Also use ginger more. Zest fresh peeled ginger into stir-fries, sauces, and marinades and you won’t miss salt.
4. Choose fresh poultry, fish, and meat instead of processed or smoked varieties. Avoid meats like bacon, ham and sausages as these are processed and are high on sodium and preservatives.
5. Keep the intake of achars, chutneys, papads and namkeens in check – these are high in salt.
6. If you eat out a lot, you should know that many restaurant meals contain a day's worth of sodium. So order smart at restaurants. Restaurant soups are routine sodium disasters. Stick to salads and ask that no salt be added to your grilled meats.
7. Cook more from scratch. Packaged foods often have a lot of salt in them, since salt is a preservative. Cooking your own meals is the best way to control how much sodium goes into your food.
8. Don’t eat too much of bread and buns. Each slice can have as much as 230 milligrams of sodium. So out your slices and have thinner slices where ever possible.
9. Go easy on dressings, soy sauce, seasoned salts, and condiments like mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce; they are all high in salt.
10. Modify recipes. When a recipe calls for even a pinch of salt, replace it with onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, nutmeg (jaiphal), cumin (jeera), curry powder, ginger, cilantro (dhaniya), bay leaf (tez patta), oregano or dry mustard. In fact some foods taste better with other herbs for example: marinate chicken in lemon juice, simmer carrots in cinnamon and nutmeg (jaiphal), sprinkle some dill (savaa) and parsley onto potatoes before roasting, toss your pasta with fresh chopped garlic.
11. Change your cheese and butter. Opt for fresh mozzarella or cheeses marked low-sodium. Replace salted butter with unsalted butter.
12. Revamp your pizza. The big concerns about a pizza don’t stop at its high saturated fat content, refined flour consumption and humongous calories. Did you know that one slice may have up to 760 milligrams of sodium? Now do the math. Even a few slices can send your sodium intake skyrocketing. So top your slices with more veggies and less cheese, and swap in a salad for some of your slices.
13. Soup is good for you, but only if made the right way. Canned soups are sodium loaded. So ideally make a big batch of your own and freeze the leftovers, or add lots of additional veggies to canned or packet soups to add more potassium and get the sodium per serving down.
14. Keep a sodium diary to help you decide which foods to decrease or eliminate. You may be surprised at how much sodium you consume each day.
(The writer is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don't Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)
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