Small changes can make big differences. Especially when it comes to salt and your health. I often hear that eating less salt is ‘too difficult’, or ‘inconvenient’ – but you might be surprise just how easy it can be. Lowering your salt intake doesn’t have to mean completely overhauling your diet. In fact, a few simple swaps here and there can make all the difference. These 5 small changes are so easy, they’ll be second nature before you know it.
1. READ THE LABEL
There is often HUGE variation in the amount of salt in foods within the same category, but a quick read of the nutrition information panel can help you make the right choice. For example – some tomato-based pasta sauces are 90 times saltier than others ! And some dips contain 400 times more salt that others )! A quick check of the label will help you see which products are hiding stacks of salt. If you’re not sure what to look for on a nutrition label, our handy guide will tell you all you need to know.
2. Take the SALT SHAKER OFF THE TABLE
Adding salt to your food is often a mindless habit you do without thought. Removing the salt shaker from the table reminds you to think twice about whether your food really needs an extra salt hit. If you still think you need salt, try slowly reducing the amount. If you usually add 3 shakes, try adding just 2. Then after a week or so, try only 1. Keep going until you don’t add any! Your tastebuds are very adaptable, so this slow and steady approach will mean you hardly notice a difference.
3. Choose ‘LOW SALT’ or ‘SALT REDUCED’ alternatives of your favourites
While fresh food is the best option – you don’t always need to sacrifice the convenience of quick and easy favourites like baked beans and pasta sauces. Just look for the ‘low salt’ or ‘salt reduced’ versions. It only takes a quick glance at the front of the pack to identify these products, but the difference in salt content can be huge. Same tasty and convenient product minus the excessive salt – it’s a no brainer!
4. FROZEN over CANNED
Did you know that salt is often added to canned foods to preserve them? So, if you can’t get your hands on fresh veggies, frozen is your next best bet, as no salt is needed in the freezing process. Take corn for example – canned corn can contain 250mg sodium per 100g, while frozen corn usually contains less than 10mg sodium per 100g. That’s a big difference and such a simple change!
5. SWITCH IT UP
It’s often the combination of salty ingredients that turns a simple meal into a salt bomb. Take a salad for example – while you intend for it to be a healthy, ingredients like anchovies, olives, cheese and dressing can add up and to an excessively high salt content. So why not try switching out at least ONE of the ingredients and making it yourself. For a salad, you could make your own salt free dressing like this one. While the other ingredients might still be salty, making one small switch can drastically reduce the overall salt content of the meal.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to make all these changes at once – pick the one that seems most achievable and focus on that to begin with. Once you’ve nailed the first small change, start on another, until you’ve made your way through them all. After just a few weeks your tastebuds won’t even know that they ever wanted salt and most importantly, your heart will thank you for it.