By guest blogger Dr. Mao Shing Ni, DOM, PhD, ABAAHP, LAc; author of the best-selling book Secrets of Longevity
The average American consumes about one and a half teaspoons of sodium (about 3,400 milligrams) a day, far exceeding the national dietary recommendation of no more than 2,300 milligrams, or one teaspoon, a day.
There is overwhelming evidence that dietary salt is the major cause of elevated blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease. Analysts say that broad-reaching reductions in sodium intake could potentially prevent more than 100,000 deaths every year.
Here are 4 tips to help you lay off the salt:
1. Swap the everyday salt for other tasty seasonings
One way to cut the sodium without sacrificing taste is to swap salt for delicious seasonings. Spice up your dish [http://www.rodale.com/using-spices] and get some powerful health benefits at the same time by using vinegar, garlic, onions, scallions, leeks, ginger, peppers, dill, oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil, coriander, fennel, anise, and cardamom.
Over time, you will come to enjoy the delicious subtleties of these herbs and spices—and you won’t even miss the salt!
2. Look out for hidden salt
You may think the saltshaker is to blame, but actually, the majority of the salt we consume comes from packaged, processed foods and from restaurant meals (including fast food).
Some packaged foods that tend towards high levels of sodium include processed snack foods, canned beans, canned soups, breads and cereals, and frozen entrées. Also, preserved foods like pickles and olives are usually very high in sodium. Choose products that say they’re sodium free, very low in sodium, light in sodium, or unsalted.
Your best bet is to become a judicious label reader and look at the sodium content of packaged foods. You may be surprised by what you find—one cup of soup could have your allowance of salt for the whole day!
3. Eat out less
Since restaurant meals and fast food are some of the major contributors to excessive sodium consumption, eat at home more often. When you do go out, don’t be afraid to request nutritional information about menu items to see the sodium levels; most fast-food restaurants are required to provide this information.
Better yet, fall in love with cooking your own meals and purchase more wholesome foods, such as fresh meats and vegetables and unprocessed grains. Then you will be able to accurately gauge your salt intake. When you cook fresh food from scratch, you will inevitably cut back on your consumption of processed foods—one of the best things you can do for your long-term health, waistline, and overall appearance.
4. What about sea salt?
The common table salt that we use to enhance flavors has been refined to nothing but sodium chloride and is devoid of all other essential minerals. Sea salt, on the other hand, contains close to sixty trace minerals that are essential for the formation of vitamins, enzymes, and proteins that keep our bodies going. However, although sea salt offers some nutritional benefits, it is still sodium, so use in moderation! If you have hypertension or have other risk factors, it is best to skip the sea salt altogether.
Healthy kidneys regulate and maintain just the right amount of sodium, potassium, and other essential minerals in the body by excreting the excesses and retaining what the body may be deficient in. It is therefore critical to support healthy kidney function. Chinese medicine has long regarded the kidney organ network as fundamental to health and wellness. Our traditional Chinese herbal formula used to support healthy kidney function is Enduring Youth. This is a supplement I take daily to support not only healthy kidney network but also my vitality, too.
I hope you have found ways to cut the salt!
May you Live Long, Live Strong, and Live Happy!
Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao, is a best-selling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine, and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared on Dr. Oz, the Doctors, and EXTRA. Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago. In addition, he is the cofounder and Chancellor of Yo San University in Venice/Marina del Rey. To subscribe to a free newsletter, please visit www.taoofwellness.com. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment, please call 310-917-2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at email@example.com