From my Cheesy White Chicken Chili to my Sugar Cookie Cake with Amaretto frosting, salt is an important component in a lot of dishes, but salt is becoming a major health crisis in the US. According to the CDC, 90% of Americans consume too much sodium. Too much sodium in a person’s diet leads to major health complications. With the need for healthier living in a society filled with instant meals and fast food, I had to lower the sodium in my diet to prevent having high blood pressure like my father. Here are 5 tips I found to lower your sodium intake.
Cook at Home
Cook at home as much as you can. Fast food and restaurants not only serve oversized portions but typically load their foods with sodium and preservatives. Enough said.
Use Aromatic Herbs and Spices
If you take salt out of a recipe, be ready to replace it with something better. Salt can easily be replaced with other herbs and spices. Using onion and garlic powder instead of a steak rub leads to a delicious steak with lower sodium. If you are too busy to create your own blends, look for sodium and preservative free blends that are already proportioned for you.
One of the biggest temptations I avoid while shopping is prepackaged veggies, fruits, and meats. What’s easier than throwing a pre-made patty on the grill, dumping a can of corn in a sauce pot, and pouring myself a watermelon vodka slush? Well, the alternative doesn’t take too much longer. Seriously. Sure the prepackaged stuff can save some time, but the sodium content is through the roof! There is a reason it tastes so good after sitting in a package for a long time. Fresh meats are easy to obtain, and can actually be cheaper than the prepackaged stuff. I save a lot of money by going to my local butcher and getting fresh chicken breast, especially when there is a sale. Fresh veggies can be a bit more expensive than the canned version, but the fresh stuff usually offers more than the amount in one can, so it does almost meet the same cost. My wallet ends up heavier and my sodium lower by spending a little extra time in the kitchen. Who can beat that?
When picking out ingredients, choose the unsalted version, like unsalted butter over regular. This allows your other seasonings to come in and do the work that you previously allowed salt to do.
Do It Yourself
Thanks to the internet, you can find Do It Yourself guides for almost anything. I love making my own applesauce, ranch dip, and garlic & herb butter. I control the salt content and get a better, more natural flavor. Plus bragging rights. If you like it and it’s bad for you, almost guaranteed there is a healthier alternative online.
- Joseph LeJuine, staff writer