Let the Salt Pass

Today I read a great post from Michele King in her Gaga Goody Blog about the health risks associated with salt.  I have always been wary of salt, and this post not only spells out the risks associated with a high sodium diet, but also offers some easy painless ways to lower our salt intake without giving up flavor and taste.  I hope you enjoy this post from Michele and also get a chance to check out her blog.

Divorcing Salt

by Michele King,
http://blog.gagagoodie.com

As a proud member of the dirty thirty club I was bitch slapped with a sobering taste of reality when I went to the doctor for a check up and she told me I was on the border-line for high blood pressure and might have to go on medication if I did not watch my salt intake.  Oh my goodness, I am getting old!!!!  I mean, I have gained a few pounds and my days of competitive running are long gone, but I never thought I would have to start watching what I ate so soon.  My teens and my twenties had a calorie intake of maybe 3500 to 4000 calories a day, but I knew I was gonna work off 2000 of those with my three hour daily training schedule so it didn’t matter.  And it has been many a moon since I spent more than an hour in the gym on a regular basis, but the truth of the matter is I can no longer eat in the carefree manner I am used to as a singleton.

News flash, salt makes your body hold water.  If you eat too much salt, the extra water is stored in your body and raises your blood pressure.  The higher your blood pressure, the greater strain on your heart, arteries, kidneys and brain.  These issues can lead to heart attacks, strokes, dementia and kidney disease.  Salt contains sodium.  Sodium is added as a preservative to many of the foods we eat, it is in especially high doses in canned foods, frozen meals and restaurant food.  Reducing the risk of high blood pressure does not mean giving up on flavorful foods, it just means you have to adjust.  And many of us are going to have to make changes if we expect to lead a long, healthy life.

Cooking is what I do and this new reality brought changes to how I cook.  Substituting herbs for salts and fats can contribute to a better diet.  Orange juice, lemon juice, fresh garlic, pepper, vinegars, coffee, thyme, fresh cilantro, dill and paprika can all be used as alternatives to salt.  Fresh garlic can lower blood pressure and cholesterol.  Experimenting with sea salt and kosher salt for flavor is another consideration.  Other spices, like ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and cayenne are also known to reduce blood pressure.  If possible, opt for frozen vegetables instead of canned when fresh veggies are not available.  It is not a catch all but can be helpful, especially for those living in food deserts.  Seasoning with herbs, spices and vinegars is a healthy way to enjoy good food while lessening your sodium intake.

Goodbye salt, I will see you around, but I am gonna have to keep you at a distance!

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