According to a new survey, 71% of Americans still don’t know the recommended daily amount of salt intake, with the average American consuming nearly double the suggested amount of salt per day, far more than the recommended daily intake of 2,300 milligrams (about one teaspoon), which is equivalent to about 7.6 pounds of salt per year. These new statistics are quite troubling so it is no surprise that salt is now seen by many as the “new trans fat,” See below some additional statistics from the Mrs. Dash survey that your readers may find interesting:
- 58% of Americans are consuming the same if not MORE salt than two years ago, despite persistent health warnings.
- 70% of people surveyed usually add salt while cooking or preparing a meal, and 55% usually add salt without consulting a recipe, or add salt to prepared foods at the table, and half add salt to their food even before tasting.
However, some people have taken heed to the warnings to lower sodium intake:
- 68% of Americans say they usually eat low sodium foods when cooking at home.
- As many Americans change their diets for health reasons, 61% of those people have cut back on their salt intake.
Food Network’s Robin Miller (“Quick Fix Meals”) who is working with Mrs. Dash has provided practical tips for lowering sodium intake without sacrificing flavor:
Sauce Swap: Instead of prepared sauces, make your own. In a blender, combine roasted red peppers (home-made!), balsamic vinegar, fresh garlic, fresh parsley or basil, olive oil, and ground black pepper. Puree until smooth. Add water until you reach the desired consistency. The same sauce can be made with rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes. Thick sauces can be used over chicken, fish, pork, steak, and vegetables. Thinner sauces can be used in pasta and rice dishes.
Better Broth: Make home-made broths with the liquid from rehydrated wild mushrooms such as porcini and shiitake. Soak 1 ounce of dried mushrooms in 1 cup of very hot water for at least 20 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve to remove any debris and use the broth and mushrooms in your favorite dishes that call for chicken or beef stock (soups, stews, sauces).
Pantry Raid: Keep a hearty stash of salt-free seasoning blends such as Mrs. Dash. Grab these instead of salt to truly enhance the flavor of sweet and savory dishes. For example, nutmeg brings out the cheese flavor in dishes made with cheese (casseroles, egg dishes, etc.). Cardamom, cumin, curry, and cinnamon add warmth and depth. Oregano, marjoram, bay leaves, and garlic add robust flavor to Italian, Spanish and Greek dishes. Sage and tarragon add a wonderful floral quality to meat, fish and vegetable recipes. Start experimenting (when first starting, read the labels – they often highlight the ideal food “partners” for the particular herb or spice).
Party with Parsley!: Believe it or not, this fresh herb actually enhances the flavor of other foods, meaning it’s the perfect replacement for salt in savory dishes. Add fresh chopped parsley to grilled and roasted chicken, fish, steak, and pork, pasta and rice dishes, and steamed and roasted vegetables. Parsley side note: Fresh parsley acts like a mild diuretic, increasing urine production by the kidneys; it enhances sodium and water excretion while increasing potassium re-absorption. Plus, herbalists in China and Germany make parsley tea to help control high blood pressure.
Vinegar In, Salt Out: Use intensely-flavored, aged vinegars in place of salt in sauces, dressings, marinades, and “drizzles” for steamed and roasted meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables. Aged balsamic vinegar is an excellent choice and when simmered over medium heat, you can reduce it down to a syrupy consistency (the perfect topping for chicken, fish, pork, steak, and vegetables). Watch out for “seasoned” vinegars, they often have tons of sodium.
Peel Out: Just before serving, add the grated peel of lemons and/or limes to pasta, rice, fish, and vegetable dishes. The subtle tartness eliminates the need for salt!
Reduce, Reduce, Reduce: To concentrate the flavor of sauces, soups and stews, simmer them over medium heat until they reduce by about 1/3 (assuming you haven’t added any salt to the recipe!).
Pick your Fat: Cook with olive, canola and vegetable oil instead of butter or margarine (butter and margarine are often very high in sodium).
Opt Out: Eliminate salt in the cooking water for pasta, rice, noodles, vegetables, and hot cereals.
One Hole Left! : Cover up all but ONE of the holes on your salt shaker. Gradually get used to using less salt and then eventually take the shaker off the table completely! Your goal should be to enjoy the wonderful, natural taste of food.
Be Wary of Dairy!: Check out the dairy products in your fridge right now. Shocking how much sodium is in one slice of processed cheese, huh? Check all your dairy and cheese products (1/2 cup of cottage cheese has almost 500 mg of sodium!!), and opt for reduced-sodium versions when available.
Mind Your Medication: You might be surprised, but some common drugs are loaded with sodium. Check with your doctor or pharmacist for the sodium content of all medications, especially antacids, cough medicines, laxatives, and pain relievers.