One of the best ways to lower your high blood pressure is to reduce or eat less salt. However, it is very important to your body. The sodium in salt help transmit nerve impulses and contract muscle fiber, according to Harvard Medical School Publication, 2013. Also, it works with potassium to balance fluid levels in the body – but you require only a very small amount of it to do this. Less than one-tenth of teaspoon per day. Your body can also generally get rid of its sodium.
But in some people, consuming extra sodium makes the body to hold on to water – which increases the amount of fluid flowing through the blood vessels, thereby leading to high blood pressure.
How much salt ( sodium) is too much?
An adult should eat no more than 6g of salt per day, but most of us eat much more than this amount. It is good to know that most of the salt we eat is ” hidden “.
Most of the salt ( 80% ) we eat comes from prepared and processed foods, such as snack foods, sandwich meats, pizza, smoked and cured meats, canned juices, canned and dry soups and many condiments, sauces and relishes. Only about 20 percent comes from the sodium we add at the table.
There are a number of simple ways you can reduce your sodium intake. Knowing which foods contain a lot of salt is great place to start, when it comes to eating less it. Here are some ways to cut back on sodium.
1. When eating out.
If you are eating out in a restaurant or cafe or ordering a take away, you can still eat less sodium by making smart choices of low-salt food.
Pizza: Chose vegetable or chicken toppings, instead of bacon or extra cheese.
Pasta dishes: Choose a pasta dish with a tomato sauce with vegetables or chicken rather than bacon, cheese or sausage.
Burgers: Avoid toppings that can be high in salt, such as bacon, cheese and barbecue sauce and opt for salad instead.
Asian meals: Choose plain rice or glass noodles. They are lower in sodium than ‘ pilau ‘ or egg fried rice.
Sandwiches: Instead of cheddar cheese or ham, go for fillings such as chicken, egg, mozzarella or vegetables.
Breakfast: Choose a poached egg on toast with mushrooms and grilled tomatoes instead of full english breakfast.
2. Use spices and other flavor enhancers
You can add flavor to your favorite dishes with spices, dried and fresh herbs, roots ( such as garlic and ginger ), citrus, vinegars and wine. From black pepper, cinnamon and tumeric to fresh basil, chilipeppers and lemon juice. These flavor enhancers create excitement for the plate – and with less sodium in the plate.
3. Get your whole-grain from sources other than bread
Whole-grain bread, though a healthier choice than white bread contains considerable sodium. Every bread contain quite a bit of salt – not just for flavor, but to ensure the dough rises properly. You can skip that extra salt when looking for whole-grain outside baking. For example, instead of toast with breakfast, cook up steel-cut oats, Farro or other intact wholegrain with fruits.
4. Go nuts for healthy fats
You should try using the right healthy fats – from roasted nuts and avocados to olive, canola, soybeans and other oils – can add rich flavor to food excluding sodium.
5. Sear, SautAc and Roast
Searing or sautAcing foods in a pan builds flavor instead of using salt. Roasting brings out natural sweetness of many vegetables and the taste of fish and chicken. If you do steam or microwave some dishes, perk them up with a finishing drizzle of flavorful oil and squeeze of citrus.
6. Know your seasons and even better, your local farmer.
Shop for raw ingredients with maximum natural flavor, thereby avoiding the need to add as much sodium. Shop for peak of the season produce from farmers markets and local supermarkets.
7. Soluble vitamin supplements or painkillers
If you routinely take an effervescent ( dissolvable) vitamin supplements or take effervescent pain killers, it worth noting that these can contain up to 1g of salt per tablet. Therefore, you may consider changing to non-effervescent tablets particularly, if you have been advised to watch or reduce your sodium consumption.
8. Be wary of processed foods
You have to be wary of processed and prepared food especially those that bill themselves as ‘ low in fats ‘. Often they try to make up for the lost flavor with extra sodium. Read the labels and prefer ‘ low-sodium ‘ and ‘ no added salt ‘ . Sodium content can add up in a very short time when you combine various products. Eat less processed foods to reduce your chances of taking in too much hidden salt.
9. Look for alternatives
As you seek to cut down on sodium consumption, always look for alternatives. Many items are unsalted or low in sodium. Chips, butter, canned broth, canned soup are all offered in low- or no-salt versions. Sea salt, rock salt and flavored salt are still salt; avoid them to stay healthy.