How often do you pick up the salt shaker to add salt to a recipe or to your meal, all the while worrying about too much sodium? You may have heard that reducing your sodium intake can help lower your blood pressure, but if kept unchecked, chronic hypertension can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, congestive heart failure or a stroke. Most people think the majority of salt intake comes from the salt added to food when cooking and eating but, did you know 80 to 90% of American daily sodium intake actually comes from restaurant meals or processed foods?
Our bodies need sodium, but many of us go overboard consuming over 3 times the recommended amount. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is to consume no more than 2300 milligrams of sodium per day, however the average daily intake is around 3000-6000 milligrams. At 1500 milligrams, the recommended amount is even less for at risk-populations such as those with hypertension, diabetes and anyone over 40 years of age – which include almost 70 percent of American adults. With one teaspoon of salt containing about 2300 milligrams of sodium, daily intake adds up quickly. With that in mind, it may be easier than you think to help control your salt intake!
Following a diabetic diet helps keep your sodium under control as the American Diabetes Association has parameters on calling a recipe ‘diabetic’ for sugar, carbohydrate, saturated fat and sodium. I highlight all my diabetic recipes with a ‘D’ in my cookbooks, KITCHEN 101, Eating Well to Fight Arthritis, and Eating Well Through Cancer.
An obvious and easy way to decrease your salt intake is by removing the salt shaker from the dinner table. You may think you are just sprinkling a little salt on but before you know it, you have added a day’s worth of sodium. Without it in reach you will not give yourself the option. These days there are many delicious salt-free seasoning blends, herbs and rubs on the market to flavor your food, and before long you won’t even miss the salt!
A major way you can reduce your sodium intake is by reducing processed and pre-prepared foods. Sodium is added to packaged, canned and frozen foods, not just for flavor but also as a preservative, keeping the food shelf-stable for a longer period of time. Reading the sodium content on the Nutrition Facts panel is the best way to be aware of how much sodium you are eating while paying special attention to serving size.
With sodium playing an important role in our overall health, from renal disease, heart disease and even stroke risk, we must remember moderation is key. However, it doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite foods.
Try these flavorful Asian Burgers using low sodium soy sauce and fresh ingredients on your BBQ grill this summer! By incorporating a few of these easy steps and looking for low-sodium ingredients and recipes, like this trim and terrific Chicken, Red Pepper, Spinach, and White Bean Pizza, you will be on your way to spot hidden sodium so that it does not wreak havoc on your health.
Trim and Terrific Tips:
- An average slice of thin crust delivery pizza (770 mg sodium) and frozen pizza (790 mg) is almost 800 mg of sodium – over half or 1/3 the recommended amount of your daily sodium intake!
- Compare it to this delicious Chicken, Red Pepper, Spinach and White Bean Pizza recipe from Eating Well to Fight Arthritis cookbook, chocked full of fresh ingredients weighing in at only 362 mg of sodium per slice – even making it diabetic-friendly!
- Make sure to take time in the supermarket to check food labels for terms like “low-sodium,” “no salt added,” and “low salt” on canned and packaged items, such as canned broth and soups, canned vegetables, prepared frozen dinners, and cold cuts.
- Steer clear of processed foods and choose fresh instead can drastically decrease your sodium intake.
- Fresh meats, legumes, unsalted nuts, dairy, fruits and vegetables all contain very little sodium, making them wise choices in a low sodium diet.
- When using canned beans, make sure to choose reduced or low-sodium versions, however if these are not available you can also reduce sodium by up to 40 percent by rinsing and draining beans in a colander before eating like in one of my favorite summer recipes, Southwestern Sweet Potato Salad!
- 1 (12-inch) thin pizza crust
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 medium red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 cups chopped baby spinach
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast
- 1/2 cup white navy beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 1. Preheat oven 425°F. Coat crust with oil.
- 2. In large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, cook red pepper and onion about 5 minutes or until crisp tender. Add garlic, spinach and oregano, stirring only until spinach is wilted.
- 3. Evenly spoon spinach mixture over crust and top with remaining ingredients. Bake 8–10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is done.
- Nutrition information per serving: Calories 204, Protein (g) 14, Carbohydrate (g) 21, Fat (g) 7, Calories from Fat (%) 30, Saturated Fat (g) 3, Dietary Fiber (g) 2, Total Sugars (g)2, Cholesterol (mg) 24, Sodium (mg) 362, Diabetic Exchanges: 1 1/2 starch, 1 1/2 lean meat
- Terrific Tip: Freeze leftover pizza slices and reheat for a make-ahead meal another day.
- Nutrition Nugget: Spinach is a great addition to many dishes because it is concentrated in healthy antioxidant protection.