Plus 5 Healthy Foods with Hidden Salt and 5 Healthy Foods with Low-Salt
By: Laura M. Howell
To salt or not? It's an age old question. For some, a no-brainer. For others, a devil and an angel on the shoulder. Let's take a closer look at the facts.
The History of Salt
Salt has been around for millions of years in the mineral form found in the sea. Consuming rock salt with food and as a preserver dates back 8,000 years to the Romans, according to Wikipedia . As history continued salt became a even more valuable resource. Salt was a key element for trade around the world. It was so valuable that there is evidence that ancient wars were started over it. In present day, salt does not hold quite the monetary value it once did, but it’s still a huge part of our diets and continues to be one of the best ways of preserving food. Furthermore, no one can deny that salt makes french fries taste 100% better. Would we even order french fries if they were salt-free? I know I wouldn’t.
Why we Need Sodium in our Diets
Sodium or salt is an essential nutrient in the body but it is something the body cannot produce on it’s own. Sodium plays a vital role in regulating the balance between fluids and electrolytes. As well as helping our body fluids transport oxygen and nutrients. Having sodium in our diets is not just necessary, it’s crucial for survival. Low-sodium levels in the body will lead to malnutrition as well as impact how the kidneys function and the bodies ability to balance electrolytes.
What a Days Worth of Sodium SHOULD Look Like
With the overabundance of availability of processed food in the modern diet we should all be aware of over-salting. The average person should aim for 1500-2300 mg mg of sodium per day which amounts to 0.75 teaspoons to 1 teaspoon of salt per day. The average intake of sodium is about 3400 mg, most of it coming from processed foods. Avoiding processed food will dramatically cut back on your sodium levels. If you’re cooking at home and need a shake of the white stuff give the shaker a pour but aim for only 2 shakes. A two-shake count will keep your sodium under control but still give your eggs enough extra-flavor so you feel satisfied.
A Modern, Healthy Take on Sodium
I know a lot of healthy salt-loving folks that take this mindset on salt in their food,"I purchase low or no sodium food and then I add my own salt.’’ Basically, they like to be in charge of their sodium levels. They understand that they need salt. They understand that buying processed foods generally means there's added salt. But, lets face it salt can make normally bland tasting food easier on the taste buds. For example, adding salt to a plain baked potato makes will make a potato come to life. Also, adding pasta sauce to ground turkey or chicken can taste like a treat.
The Salt Shake Down
Salt shakes down to this, moderation. Unlike having a moderate amount of junk food in your diet, salt is actually good for you. The key is knowing what to add it on and what foods already contain an appropriate amount. In modern day we are not doing a lot of our own food preservation with salt in our homes, but the food industry is. Having salt is a necessity for health and in food convenience. Salt has always been a part of our lives, and it always will be. With knowledge there is power, and knowing what is in our foods will give us the knowledge of when to salt and when to not.
5 Healthy Foods With Low to Moderate Sodium
- Eggs in all forms.
- Fresh, frozen or dried fruits.
- All forms of fat-free or low-fat yogurt.
- All forms of low-fat cheese especially Swiss cheese.
- Nut butters, make it a snack by adding fruit or vegetables.
5 Healthy Sounding Food With HIGH Sodium
- Jarred sauces such as: pasta sauce, salsa and salad dressings.
- Most forms of canned soups.
- Frozen vegetarian burgers.
- Select breakfast cereals.
- Most forms of canned vegetables.
What's your salt policy for your food?