Jackie Weighs in Wednesday

Have you ever heard of National Salt Awareness Day? Well, neither had I, before yesterday, that is. And I’ve just learned that the first week of February is World Salt Awareness Week! So, here’s some useful information about salt and sodium.

You probably already know that sodium plays an important role in maintaining the body’s fluid balance. It’s essential for muscles and nerves to function properly. However most of us consume too much of it. FDA guidelines call for less than 2,400 mg of sodium per day — and if that sounds like a big number, you may be surprised to learn that it’s the equivalent of about 1 teaspoon of table salt. If you’re not in the habit of adding salt at the table, you still may not be in the clear…most of our salt intake doesn’t come from the salt shaker; it’s hidden in many of the foods we buy at the grocery store and at restaurants. Here are some of the main culprits that may have much more sodium than you realize: frozen meals, ready-to-eat cereals, vegetable juices, canned vegetables, packaged deli meats, soups, marinades, sauces, dressings and condiments.

So what can you do to reduce the sodium in your meals and still maintain the flavor? The preference for salt is a learned preference, and can be unlearned. Gradually wean yourself off of high sodium (over 600 mg/serving) foods gradually, adding in more flavorful spices and seasonings, like garlic, onions, basil, and ground chili. Beware of combination spices like chili powder and garlic powder, as they often have salt. Check the ingredient listing on the label. Use fresh lemon juice to bring out the natural flavors in foods. After a month of “shaking less”, you’re palate will begin to adjust and high sodium meals will begin to taste too salty for you!

Of course, you can always purchase my blends, available in our online store at www.nutrifitonline.com. Be patient and remember that it’s taken years to develop the preference for salt, so it may take a while to unlearn it, but it will happen, and your body will thank you for it!