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Shaking the Salt Habit - a Low Sodium Appproach to a Low Salt Diet
Congratulations! You have taken the first step towards a healthier lifestyle. First things first, though. Remove that salt shaker from your table and replace it with Mrs. Dash seasoning or a blend of your own choosing.
You will soon be amazed at how good your food tastes, now that it isn't clouded by excessive sodium. All foods have their own unique flavor, which is brought out by proper cooking and seasoning, and not covered up by salt. Your taste buds will thank you, (you don't know what you have been missing!) By adding a variety of fresh or dried herbs, the flavors in your favorite foods will wake up and be refreshed.
Supermarkets are much more accommodating these days, aware of the growing demand to offer low and no salt products. The Food and Drug Administration has established that "sodium free" labels on products cannot contain more than 5mg per serving. A "very low sodium" label may contain up to 35mg per serving, and a "low sodium" label can have as much as 140mg per serving, or 50 grams of the food.
By reading the labels, and determining how many servings are in one container, you will have a good understanding of what is acceptable for your own diet. A can of "low sodium" soup may have only 140mg of sodium "per serving", but checking carefully, the label may show that each can holds more than one serving.
As an example, a national brand soup (10.5oz) labeled 25% less sodium, contains 530mg of sodium "per serving", but the can holds 2.5 servings! Thatís a whopping 1325mg of sodium per can. Can you imagine how much sodium is in their regular label? Yet, another flavor soup (10.5oz), distributed by the same national brand, labeled "low sodium" contains 90mg of sodium per serving, and the can contains only 1 serving. Such discrepancies are not uncommon. Don't be deceived by "less salt" labeling.
To be really aware of what you are purchasing, read all labels. Compare brands. Each brand will vary from another in it's nutritional content. Most frozen entrees contain a great deal of salt, because salt is a natural preservative, and therefore the shelf life will be extended for the package.
Recently I discovered that Trader Joe's Market offers a no salt marinara sauce that is superb. My family prefers it to the national brand, when we use ready-made sauce.
But how much sodium are you really getting daily? Even your tap water contains sodium. Where I live each 8oz glass of tap water contains 8mg of sodium. Times that by 8 glasses a day and you have 64mg of sodium just in water alone.
To get a good understanding of the salt content of your favorite foods, invest in a good nutritional book, like Nutrition Almanac, by Lavon J. Dunne and John Kirschmann. (the newest edition will be out in December 2006). Or my own favorite, The No-Salt Cookbook by David Anderson and Thomas Anderson. Along with great recipes, there is a chapter dedicated to sodium content of most foods, listed alphabetically.
Soon, you will just know how to calculate your sodium intake. It will become second nature. You will be able to scan a meal and just know.
If your local markets don't yet carry low sodium foods, ask the store manager if they can look into ordering what you need. Chances are you are not alone in searching for these low salt items. In the meantime, we have listed many resources for shopping online for low-sodium products on our webiste, www.Cooking-for-Compliments.com/low-sodium.html
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