Think about all the foods you eat. Now, think about how much sodium might be in those foods. If they happen to be things that you eat on a regular basis, then you may actually be addicted to sodium without even realizing it – not to mention putting your health in jeopardy.
Examples of high-sodium foods include smoked or cured meats (i.e. bacon, deli meat), frozen pizzas, salted nuts, processed cheese and cheese spreads, cottage cheese, instant potatoes, canned vegetables (i.e. olives, pickles), canned soup or instant soup mixes, soy sauce, salad dressing, and instant pudding…just to name a few; and just like quitting smoking and other bad habits, cutting these high-sodium foods from your diet cold turkey can not only be a shock to your system, but also a shock to your taste buds. These days, many items (such as chicken broth) come with low-sodium options. However, if you abruptly switch to a low-sodium version, you’re most likely going to be able to tell the difference, therefore making you less inclined to want to decrease your sodium intake because of the major difference in taste. That being said, your health is important. Too much sodium in the diet can lead to things like high blood pressure which can increase your risk of developing heart disease. Some people also develop bloating, face puffiness, and bags under their eyes as a result of having too much sodium in their diets. To prevent these problems from happening, family physician from Vancouver, Dr. Ali Ghahary, suggests cutting back on your salt intake as much as possible.
To make the process easier for you, instead of cooking with the usual amount of salt that you normally would, try using half the amount. That way you’ll still have that salty taste, but you’ll be training your body to get used to less sodium intake. If it’s flavour you’re after, you can also replace salt with other herbs and spices. Blends containing things like basil, oregano, thyme and rosemary are very flavourful and can be incorporated into meals in a number of different ways. Foods from restaurants are also often high in sodium, so when dining out ask your server if it’s an option to have vegetables and fish steamed, and make sure you skip things like dips and sauces. When grocery shopping, always read the nutritional labels on packaging. Also look for potential hidden sources of sodium. Names that sodium are often disguised under include monosodium glutamate, disodium guanylate, and fleur de sel. Also don’t let other forms of salt fool you. Salt is salt, whether it’s regular table salt, sea salt, or Himalayan pink salt. Regardless of its name, colour, or place of origin, it’s still sodium.
Another healthy way to decrease your sodium intake is to reduce your consumption of processed foods. Many processed foods contain little to no nutritional value and can do a number on your health in the long-term, so you’d only be doing yourself a favour. Instead, replace those processed foods with ones that are rich in potassium, such as nuts (unsalted), beans and legumes. The more you eat of these and other healthy foods, the less your body will crave salt and other foods that are high in sodium.