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Lowering Sodium: But I like salt!

Posted by By Merrilyn Tauscher, FoodE Manager
Thursday, June 30, 2011

At a recent family reunion, a cousin asked me if I had any salt. My first reaction was why anyone would need additional salt with all the standard pot-luck fare my family had just uncovered. When he said he wanted it for his watermelon as he likes how it brightens the flavor of his favorite fruit, a slow smile appeared on my face.

Yes, whether you sprinkle it on, stir it in, or cook your food on blocks of salt, these crystals probably do more than any other seasoning to heighten the natural flavor of food. The challenge, however, is that most of us eat too much salt, or more specifically sodium.

With Americans consuming an average of over 3,500 milligrams (mg) sodium per day, it’s no surprise that lowering sodium is called out as part of the message accompanying the newly released “My Plate” icon (, which replaces the food pyramid. The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans call for reducing sodium intake to fewer than 2,300 mg. If you are over 51, African American or have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, that number drops to less than 1,500 mg a day. This lower number applies to over half of our population, including me!

So, what to do if you or someone in your family is trying to limit sodium? Start slowly. I discovered I like crackers with just a “hint of salt” and cooking with reduced sodium chicken broth and soy sauce. Lemons, limes, fresh herbs, ginger and garlic are already frequently in my cart to make flavors shine. I use a lighter touch with salty condiments like olives, pickles, ketchup and mustard. It’s a good thing I like to cook as restaurant and processed foods provide about 75% of the sodium in our diets.

For quick tips on how to fill your cart with flavorful foods without breaking the sodium budget, check out our Shopping to Meet the New Sodium Guidelines.

What are some of the ways you reduce sodium in your meals without sacrificing flavor?

Tags: sodium

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