Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Friday, January 29, 2016

Cutting the Salt!

Friday, January 29, 2016 | 9:59 AM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , No comments


Salt is found in more food products than you may realize. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that American's should consume fewer than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of salt (this is slightly less than 1 teaspoon of salt). Adults age 51 and older, African Americans of any age and people with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should reduce their sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day. These new dietary guidelines emphasize the importance of making meals and snacks from scratch versus choosing processed foods too often.

The most common salts available are table salt, sea salt and kosher salt with the major differences among these being taste, texture, and processing. Kosher and sea salt have a larger course grain providing more air space, which in turn provides less sodium when used in place of table salt. The chefs in our kitchen across campus use kosher salt in their recipes to provide an overall reduced amount of sodium.

Using items like frozen vegetables, or pre-washed and packaged produce (minus any added sauces) can also be useful when trying to prepare healthy meals and snacks. The dining hall offers a number of scratch recipes to allow the opportunity for the chefs to use less salt in the cooking process and include more herbs and spices for flavor in their recipes. In order to really lower your salt intake, choose foods most often in their original form – fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, milk, yogurt and grains such as pasta and rice – that are naturally low in sodium.

Choose processed and ready-to-eat foods less often as these foods contain more sodium – particularly in foods such as pizza; cured meats like bacon, sausage, hot dogs and deli or luncheon meats; as well as ready-to eat foods, like canned chili, ravioli and soups.

Avoid using the salt shaker and use salt-free seasonings – such as herbs, spices, garlic, vinegar, black pepper, or lemon juice – to add flavor to your food. This can be done while you eat in the dining hall as the salt shakers have been moved from the tables in the dining halls to a spice station that provides a wide variety of spices to allow you to further season your foods.

Don't forget to read the Nutrition Facts label and the ingredients list to find packaged and canned foods lower in sodium. Most often choose foods labeled low sodium, reduced sodium, or no salt added. The chefs preparing foods in the dining hall are also using this strategy when these items are available from the manufacturer (e.g. using reduced sodium beans and soup bases).

Be aware that many condiments, including soy sauce, ketchup, pickles, olives, and salad dressing, are high in sodium so try to use low-sodium soy sauce and ketchup when possible. Foods lower in sodium may taste different at first, but over time it is possible to get use to foods with less sodium!

References:
  1. New U.S. Dietary Guidelines: Limit Sugar and Salt, Boost Fruit and Veggie Intake. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_156575.html Accessed January 14, 2016.
  2. Eat Right: Food, Nutrition and Health Tips from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Eat Right with Less Salt, 2014. Accessed January 2016.
  3. What's the difference between sea salt and table salt? http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/sea-salt/faq-20058512 Accessed January 15, 2016.

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