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Country Unsalted

Salt Shaker

The tip posted today is almost a dream – everyone in our country would eat 1,200 mg less salt every day. This public health campaign would save nearly $24 billion a day in subsequent care of our health directly impacted by eating salt. (NEJM, online 1.20.10).

How does a computer simulation (which is what this study is about) translate into real life America? I’m talking down-home country-style Alabamian biscuits and red-eye gravy, North Carolina-style BBQ, hushpuppies and slaw, and Boston’s sliders and fries. (I’ve lived in all these places.) How will our mouth react to half the salt in our be bim bap? Or (gasp!) French fries?

We have the blessing of taste adaptation on our side. This nation-wide campaign is designed to take a few years to even get to the one-half reduction of salt in processed food and meals served outside the home. Begin at home to slowly reduce your salt habits. Use one-fourth less salt in water used to boil pasta, rice and other grains (then increase to one-half reduction when your taste buds catch up to that flavor) and if using canned foods, like beans and tomatoes, skip the salt altogether in recipes. Leave out the salt in homemade salad dressings and sauces and opt for herbs instead.

Increasing flavor through herbs and spices teases the tastebuds into a delightful sensation of fullness and richness that belies the need for salt. Here are some other substitutions you could consider:

Fresh cucumber with dill instead of a pickle
Part-skim mozzarella instead of parmesean or romano cheese
Grilled tuna steak instead of canned tuna
Freshly grated ginger instead of soy sauce (or opt for reduced sodium soy sauce)
Ground turkey or lower-fat ground beef and pork instead of sausages and kielbasa
Freshly made salsa using tomatoes, onions, jalapeno instead of ketchup or jarred salsa

For more info on the efforts spearheaded by NYC (and joined by Starbucks, Subway and Mars), check out this link: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/cardio/cardio-salt-initiative.shtml

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