Eating too much salt is one cause of high blood pressure, which can cause heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. One in every three Americans has high blood pressure, according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.
Many people believe that if they don’t use the salt shaker at the dinner table, they are safe. But the average American consumes 6,000 milligrams of salt each day—and that’s before touching the salt shaker, says Sharon Jacob, a registered dietitian with Penrose-St. Francis Health Services. “You only need 500 milligrams of salt daily to survive. Most Americans are eating at least 10 times that amount.”
The culprit? Restaurant food and prepared foods. Have you ever noticed how juicy the chicken breast at your favorite restaurant is and wonder why your home-cooked chicken never tastes that way? Well, many restaurants soak chicken breasts in salt and water all day to achieve that juiciness. “You think you’ve made a really healthy choice because it’s low fat and low calorie, but people rarely stop to think about the salt content,” Jacob says.
Test Your Salt Smarts
Five Easy Ways to Cut Salt
- Always ask for sauces on the side.
- Water down your teriyaki or soy sauce—even if it’s a low-sodium version.
- Use herbs instead of salt. Jacob’s personal favorite is the Spice Hunter’s Cowboy BBQ seasoning.
- Don’t assume that food that is low calorie or low fat is healthy. A Subway foot-long turkey sub has 1,000 milligrams of salt—without the cheese!
- Limit frozen foods. Even a Lean Cuisine can have 500 mg of salt—one-third the daily recommended amount. Frozen chicken breasts are often salted as a flavor enhancer and preservative.
Try Sharon’s Salt-Free Taco Seasoning Recipe
2Tbsp Chili Powder
Add 1 cup water to ground beef/turkey with seasonings above and simmer until almost dry.