Here's a Salty Story
With the Christmas holiday just around the corner, many families will gather to celebrate the true meaning of the season. That celebration often comes with feasting on rich foods, often loaded with sugar, fat, and salt.
Let's focus on salt for a minute. When we think about salt, we automatically think about how it enhances the flavor of food, improves texture, and acts as a preservative that extends the shelf life of food. However, (you knew that was coming, didn't you?), eating too much salt can increase your blood pressure. Having diabetes also increases the risk of having high blood pressure, which has been linked with heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.
Salt in the diet holds fluid in the body. That may be only a nuisance to those without Congestive Heart Failure(CHF), but may serious for those who have CHF. Excess fluid in the body usually shows up first with swelling in the feet and legs, but the more fluid, the more likely it will be in the lungs where it can cause serious difficulty.
Most Americans consume 1 to 3 teaspoons of salt a day. The dietary Guidelines recommend no more that 1 teaspoon per day. Table salt (sodium chloride) is the most commonly used spice in the United States. It is cheap, flavorful and easy to use. Most of the salt in our diet doesn't come from the shaker. Most foods contain some sodium naturally, but manufacturers often add more when processing and preparing food products.
Listed below are some foods to use with caution because they will be high in sodium (salt):
When selecting foods in the grocery store, look for single foods with no more than 400 milligrams of sodium per serving, or entrees with no more than 800 milligrams of sodium. Research shows that people should have no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. That's a total of about 1 teaspoon per day. People with hypertension and middle-aged and older adults should have no more than 1,500 milligrams per day. The nutrition facts label will tell you how much sodium is in a particular food. In the ingredient list, look for the symbol NA or the words sodium, salt, or soda.
So, how can we limit the intake of sodium. First of all, put down the salt shaker, especially if you salt your food before you taste it! Next, read the nutrition labels, and look for products that fit the recommendations. When preparing home-cooked dishes, use only half the salt recommended. Gradually reduce the amount of salt you use over time so that you get used to a less salty flavor. When cooking pasta, noodles, or rice, do not add salt to the water. Use low-salt or no-salt versions of your ingredients when possible. However, do not eliminate salt from yeast bread or rolls - it is essential for flavor and yeast action, as well as texture.
Instead of salt, use spices and herbs to flavor foods. Experiment with small amounts to fine what tastes best. For mild herbs or spices, start with 1 teaspoon per six servings - these include oregano, basil, cumin and cinnamon. For strong herbs and spices, use only 1/4 teaspoon per six servings - rosemary, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, mustard, and allspice.
Controlling sodium or salt intake is the smart thing to do!
Master Wellness Volunteer Reminder
If you would like to be trained as a Master Wellness Volunteer, take note! A series has been scheduled for Thursday, January 10, 17, 24, 31, and Friday, February 8. This training provides volunteers with 40 hours of training in health and nutrition education. In return, the volunteers agree to give back 40 hours of service. The volunteer opportunities are diverse – giving presentations for local community groups, assisting with periodic cooking schools, distributing information at health fairs, and much more. Previous health or wellness training is not required. Cost for the training is $50, which covers the cost of materials, and a couple of lunches. If interested, please contact my office at 903-885-3443.
Remember this basic principle: you don't make decision because they are easy or because they are popular; you make them because they're right.
Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed.
Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Agent
1200-B W. Houston
P.O. Box 518
Sulphur Springs, TX 75483
903-885-3443 - phone
903-439-4909 - fax