Thursday, July 12, 2012

Retraining Your Tastebuds: Salt

I hear it all the time. "When they took away salt they took all the taste out of my food." Well, not really. The salt was actually covering up the subtle flavors of the food you were eating, though it's small comfort when you're faced with your first few plates of low/no salt added food.

There are good health reasons to cut back on salt. There is evidence that, over time, salt can drive inflammation, which then drives blood pressure increases. This article describes the concept and the research around it. I'm gonna tell you that the idea that you immediately need a drug to treat inflammation sets my teeth on edge since there are inexpensive natural lifestyle based alternatives but that's another post for another time. HMMMMF!

Another good reason to cut back on salt is simply because food will taste so much  better! Well, eventually it will. Seriously, unprocessed food has a wealth of varied flavors that too much salt quickly drowns out.

If you've been diagnosed with a condition such as Heart Failure you'll need to go cold turkey and believe me when I say that new taste sensations are on the way.

But if you are simply cutting down on salt as part of a healthy lifestyle you have the option of cutting back more gradually.

By cutting out processed and fast foods you will be cutting out a huge amount of salt. See my Simplified Plan for Health Eating. Then remember that restaurant food also tends to be very salty. Limit eating out and try to make good choices - both in what you eat and what restaurants you frequent.

If you're dependent upon canned foods when you cook at home try altering your recipes by using no salt added canned foods. For instance: when you make that chili that usually calls for two cans of chopped tomatoes use one regular can and one no salt added can for now. Oh! and rinse the beans. When you drain off the fluid that comes in a can of beans or tuna or the like and then refill the can with water, allow it to sit for a few minutes drain and repeat you actively remove salt.

Trying a new recipe? Make the recipe with half no salt added products and cut the salt it calls for in half. Later you can get rid of even more of the salt.

Finally, look for recipes that use whole foods rather than processed foods. Food manufacturers would have us believe that you will spend all day in the kitchen if you don't depend on their foods but I assure you that could not be further than the truth.

My challenge to you is to remove some of the excess salt from your diet. If you've already accomplished that I challenge you to choose a food you haven't eaten in a while, eat it and commit the taste to memory.

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