Salt may be America's favorite seasoning, but it's in the nutrition hot seat. Now that we've gotten past the low-carb era and the frenzy over fat, all eyes are on the amount of sodium we consume.
Our bodies need sodium, that's for sure. We're just getting too much: about 1-1/2 times more sodium per day than the 2,300mg alloted by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
That's why the October habit is to eat less salt. We know, that's a challenge. Few Americans -- just one in 10 -- limit daily sodium intake to these recommended levels (which is just a mere teaspoon of salt).
We asked our readers if they thought they were eating less than 2,300mg of sodium. Here's what they said:
59% Probably not
36% I think so, or at least I'm trying
5% I have no clue
If you're using lots of prepackaged food and frequently eat out, it will be mighty tough to hit the sodium target. Nearly 80 percent of the sodium we consume is added to a food before you open a package or order from a menu.
So our March habit of preparing 3 more meals per week at home will serve you well when it comes to slashing sodium.
Once you start cooking more, there are some simple things you can do to reduce sodium without sacrificing flavor.
Pick a smarter salt. Go for the large-crystal salts, like kosher salt and sea salt. Per teaspoon, they contain almost 25% less sodium than table salt.
Save the salt for the table. Instead of salting when you're cooking, wait to salt at the table. Fill up a decorative salt cellar with kosher, sea salt or an interesting flavored salt to use as a finishing salt. You'll get a more immediate flavor impact, so you'll likely use less.
Dial up other flavors. Counterbalance the lack of salt by focusing on a completely different flavor profile. Try acidity, sweetness or heat as a substitute for saltiness. You'll be amazed at what a squirt of lemon juice or a splash of balsamic vinegar can do to vegetables. Try glazing a chicken breast with sweet apricot preserves or sprinkling smoked paprika on grilled meats.
What are your tricks for eating less salt? Tell us what's working for you!
Image courtesy of Happy Krissy on flickr