Importance of a low salt diet
Learn the importance of a low salt diet. Heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity - all have been associated with salt and high sodium content of food.

Salt - is it a good substance or a bad one? Approximately 40% sodium by weight, salt is a combination of sodium and chloride. The truth is our bodies need sodium to help us regulate blood pressure and blood volume. Sodium also assists in keeping our muscles and nerves in top-top shape. But as in all things, moderation is the ultimate key.

Salt is linked high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attacks as too much sodium thickens the blood. The link to obesity is a result of sodium's ability to retain water which weighs heavy. Water rentention may be mistakenly thought of as fat as it will accumulate in the ankles and mid section.

Health literature can be confusing with its talk of grams and milligrams. Medical practitioners agree that no more than 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt per day should be used, about 2400 milligrams. Count each 1/4 teaspoon as 500 milligrams for an easy way of figuring sodium intake.

Drugs can contain large amounts of sodium. This is especially true of over the counter preparations. Some drug companies are now manufacturing low-sodium drugs due to consumer demand and must declare their sodium content on product labels.

Sodium content happens in food one of two ways: natural sodium occurring in food and salt that has been added to the food. In the days of the European explorers such as Christopher Columbus, food was heavily salted and spiced to preserve it to make the long voyage across the sea. Today, although it's no longer necessary to preserve foods in this manner, frozen and canned food companies still salt with a heavy hand.

While it is good to use spices instead of adding table salt to your food, check the spice labels as sodium appears naturally to some degree in small amounts in various spices. Read container labels and look for words such as 'soda' and 'sodium'. Search the labels for this symbol - Na. These are all indicators of salt's presence.

When dining in restaurants, be verbal about not wanting salt added to your food. Ask questions about how the food is prepared. It's your health and you need to protect it.

Reducing salt in your diet is a great idea. You will still take in all the sodium your body needs through food. Reduce the amount of added sodium by following these simple to follow rules:

1 - Use herbs and spices to flavor foods.

2 - Don't add salt to your food. Learn to enjoy the natural tastes of meals.

3 - Choose fresh vegetables over canned as much as possible.

4 - If you're using canned or frozen vegetables, rinse them well before cooking.

5 - Look for unsalted nuts, lentils, peas, beans and seeds.

6 - Choose low-sodium, low-fat cheese and milk.

7 - Don't cook vegetables in the same water that came in the can.

Food can be delicious without tremendous amounts of salt. Just to make sure you're not tempted, empty out the salt shaker and retire it to a far away cupboard.