Karen Ensle Ed.D., RD, FADA, CFCS Family and Community Health Sciences Educator Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County
Salt is a traditional flavor enhancer, but research suggests that a high salt diet could contribute to a range of health problems including high blood pressure. Suggestions to decrease your consumption include:
- Taste food first; don’t automatically add salt as you will add more than needed for taste and your health.
- Add a splash of olive oil or lemon juice close to the end of cooking vegetables – it will enhance the flavor and eliminate the need for salt.
- Choose fresh or frozen vegetables, since canned and pickled ones tend to include high amounts of salt.
- Limit your consumption of salty processed meats such as salami, ham, corned beef, bacon, smoked salmon, and hot dogs.
- Choose reduced salt bread, crackers, breakfast cereals, and snack foods.
- Avoid salt-laden processed foods, such as flavored instant pasta, noodles or rice, canned or dehydrated soup mixes, chips, and salted nuts.
- Choose margarine and butter that are ‘no added salt’ varieties.
- Limit your intake of cheese or choose ‘lower salt’ varieties.
- Reduce your use of soy sauce, tomato sauce, and condiments like mayonnaise and salad dressings because they contain high levels of salt.
- Use herbs, spices, vinegars, or lemon juice to add extra zing to your salad, main dish, side dish or dessert and reduce the need for salt.
- Herbs are delicately flavored, so add them at the end of the cooking time.
- Dried herbs are more strongly flavored than fresh. As a general rule, one teaspoon of dried herbs equals four teaspoons of fresh.
- Herbs can be added to meat and main dishes, soups, breads, salad dressings, desserts, and drinks.
- Coriander, ginger, garlic, chili, and lemongrass give wonderful flavor to vegetable-based stir-fry recipes.
- Switch to wholegrain or whole wheat bread, bagels, or wraps.
- Eliminate the butter, margarine, or mayonnaise on your sandwich. You won’t miss it if your sandwich already has a few tasty ingredients.
- Limit your use of spreads high in saturated fat like cream cheese. Replace them with a thin spread of nut butter, hummus, low fat cheese spread, or avocado.
- Contact a Family and Community Health Sciences Educator through Rutgers Cooperative Extension or a registered dietitian through the American Dietetic Association.
- Read Small Steps to Health & Wealth monthly messages to keep yourself updated on the latest information for making small changes that will impact your overall health.