Salt is probably one of the oldest trading commodities. It was used as money and taxes. It has been used to flavour and preserve foods for years.
Salt’s real name is sodium chloride. About 40% of salt is sodium. Some sodium in our diet is necessary for good health. It is needed for maintain water balance and blood pressure in our bodies. But with salt being readily available in so many foods most of us we eat too much salt.
It is recommended that we all keep our sodium intake to <1000mg per day. This is less than ½ tspn of salt daily. That is not a lot of salt and most of us eat far more than that each day in the commercial foods we buy.
There are a variety of salt types on the market
Rock salt and sea salt are the too main types. There is no difference between rock salt and sea salt as they all originally came from the same source. Though the sodium content varies slightly from 250-350mg/1gm
Vegetable style salts (garlic, celery and vegetable salt) range in sodium content from 45-300mg/1gm. These may not have any health advantages over regular table salt, so always read the label if you are looking for one with a lower sodium content.
Eating too much salt can lead to problem with high blood pressure or hypertension
What about salt substitutes
There are a variety of salt substitutes on the market. One of the better known ones is Potassium chloride. It’s o.k. to use for a short period of time, but if you have heart or kidney problems you really must check with you Dr before using one of these products as it may do just as much damage as regular salt.
Our taste for salt
Over preference for salty foods is learned. It is possible to reverse this taste for salt by cutting back on the salt added to cooking and at the table. It takes a few weeks for your taste buds to adapt so be patient and you will find that soon enough you aren’t looking for the salt shaker.
Many commercial foods contain salt. Here are some foods you should look at when trying to lower the salt in your diet:
Stocks, gravies and sauces are all very high in salt. Look for reduced or low salt varieties. Try cutting back on the amounts of these foods and use other ingredients such as spices, fresh herbs and lemon or lime juice to enhance flavour.
Processed meats: including bacon, hams and sausages. These foods are normally high in fat as well as salt. These should not be eaten too often.
Cheese: all cheeses are high in salt but a small amount daily is o.k. There are some low salt varieties so check food labels.
Canned vegetables: can contain a lot of added salt. Look for those packed in water versus salt and if you cannot find lower salt options always drain the brine off before cooking and eating.
Look around you supermarkets for reduced or low salt foods.