To reduce salt consumption it is important to avoid buying processed, frozen or canned foods, not taking the salt shaker to the table, or even replacing the salt with herbs, spices and vinegar, for example. Generally, all healthy people should consume a maximum of 5 g of salt per day, which is the same as consuming 2000 mg of sodium and which corresponds to 1 teaspoon per day.
Thus, consuming little salt is essential to maintain normal blood pressure and a healthy heart, as excess salt regularly can cause hypertension, heart problems or thrombosis. However, people who already have ailments like high blood pressure, kidney or heart problems should be especially careful and, therefore, should reduce their salt intake to control the disease and prevent it from getting worse.
Tips to reduce salt consumption
To reduce salt consumption you must:
- Use a teaspoon as a measure during cooking, avoiding the use of salt “by eye”;
- Avoid adding salt to foods , as they usually already contain salt;
- Do not put the salt shaker on the table during meals;
- Opt for grilled or roasted foods , avoiding dishes with many sauces, cheeses or even fast food;
- Eating foods rich in potassium , such as beets, oranges, spinach and beans, as they help to lower blood pressure and cut the effects of salt.
The amount of salt should be gradually reduced to allow the taste buds and the brain to adapt to the new flavor and, normally, after 3 weeks, it is possible to tolerate the change in flavor.
How to avoid excessive salt consumption
1. Know the salt-rich foods
Knowing which foods are high in salt is the first step in controlling the amount of salt ingested per day. Some foods rich in salt are ham, bologna, industrialized spices, cheeses and soups, broths and meals already prepared, canned and fast food. Get to know other sodium-rich foods.
Thus, it is important to avoid buying and consuming these types of foods and always opt for fresh foods.
2. Read food labels
Before buying food, you should read the labels on the packaging and look for the words sodium, salt, soda or Na or NaCl symbol, as they all indicate that the food contains salt.
In some foods it is possible to read the amount of salt, however, in other foods only the ingredients used appear. The ingredients are listed in decreasing order of quantity, that is, the food with the highest concentration is listed first and the lowest last. So it is important to check where the salt is, the farther down the list, the better.
In addition, it is necessary to pay attention to light or diet products, as they can also contain a high amount of salt, since in these cases salt is usually added to replace the flavor lost by removing fat.
Learn how to read the food label correctly.
3. Replace salt with herbs and spices
To obtain good flavors, reducing the amount of salt, you can use spices and herbs at will, such as cumin, garlic, onion, parsley, pepper, oregano, basil, bay leaves or ginger, for example.
In addition, lemon juice and vinegar can be used to make the food more appetizing, preparing the spices at least 2 hours in advance to make the flavor more refined or rub the spices on the food itself to make the flavor stronger, mixing with fresh fruit.
Some ways to cook food and flavor food without using salt, can be:
- In rice or pasta: one option is to add oregano, cumin, garlic, onion or saffron;
- In soups: you can add thyme, curry or paprika;
- In meat and poultry: pepper, rosemary, sage or poppy seeds can be added during preparation;
- In fish: one option is to add sesame, bay leaves and lemon juice;
- In salads and cooked vegetables: vinegar, garlic, chives, tarragon and paprika can be added.
In addition, when preparing homemade bread, cloves, nutmeg, almond extract or cinnamon, for example, can be added instead of salt. See more about aromatic herbs that can replace salt.
4. Use salt substitutes
Table salt can be replaced by other food products such as Diet salt, Slim or Diet salt for example, which in their composition have a greater amount of potassium instead of sodium. If you don’t like the taste of the substitute, you can add herbs or spices. However, the use of these substitutes must be indicated by a nutritionist or doctor.