Hypertension

Guest Blog: Low in Salt, Big on Flavor

February 9, 2011 at 9:45 am , by

For the second installment of our back-to-basics heart health series we tackled hypertension: what it does and how to control it. One of the most shocking things I learned from the piece was the huge role sodium can play in raising your blood pressure and harming your health. Yet every day the average American woman consumes more than double the recommended amount of sodium without even realizing it. Cutting your salt intake can be tough. But one of our favorite bloggers, Jessica Goldman (right, also known as Sodium Girl), proves that low-salt living is doable and even fun. Here she shares her story and, after the jump, some good ideas for tastier, healthier eating—with no added salt.

Beating Bland
By Jessica Goldman

Growing up, my three favorite meals were fried chicken, Szechuan beef and macaroni and cheese. Like most people, I was a verifiable salt fiend. But in 2004, when an aggressive attack of the autoimmune disease lupus caused my kidneys to fail, my eating habits had to change a lot. Quick fixes like canned soups and sauces (often off the charts in sodium content) were out of the question, as were casual dinners out, since so many chefs throw salt around by the handful.

When you have excess sodium in your diet (and trust me, if you’re not paying attention you probably do), the extra salt spills into your bloodstream, which makes you retain fluid and raises your blood pressure. Your kidneys normally regulate your sodium level, so for me, losing the salt was imperative.

Losing the thrill of eating, however, was not an option. So I approached my dietary challenge like a game of charades. Think back to the last time you played. Without words, you had to find alternative means of communicating. Without salt, my culinary crutch, I had to find alternative means of creating flavor. Read more