Weight-Loss Secret: Get Rid of Hidden Sodium
Shaking Old Habits
To escape from salt, you have to rethink how you cook and take the time to check food labels. A couple of tablespoons of soy sauce will add almost an entire day's sodium to your stir-fry, explains Marisa Moore, RD, of Atlanta, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. And some salad dressings deliver as much as 300 milligrams of sodium in a single serving. Try these simple ways to remake your diet.
Choose frozen (or fresh) over canned vegetables.
Sodium is used in canned foods to enhance taste and to act as a preservative. A can of sweet peas has close to 400 milligrams of sodium, but fresh and some brands of frozen peas have little or none. If you do use canned, buy those labeled "less sodium" or rinse the contents before heating to remove some salt.
Think outside the box.
Prepackaged rice and pasta mixes are often swimming in sodium. Since you have to boil the noodles anyway, "You're better off sprinkling parmesan and a little olive oil on your own pasta than using that box," says dietitian and anesthesiologist Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, of Sarasota, Florida. Other good flavor boosters? Herbs and spices, wine, balsamic vinegar, and real (not cooking) sherry. If your family insists on the mix, use just half the seasoning packet.
Only salt the surface.
Cook your meal salt-free, then lightly sprinkle salt where you can easily taste it -- on top of your cooked food. You'll get enough to please your palate but much less than if you cooked with salt.
Ketchup or mustard that doesn't taste salty can be loaded with sodium. Added sugar or other flavors may mask the salt. Check labels: A serving of honey mustard may have 5 milligrams of sodium -- or 300.
Eat foods high in potassium.
While sodium can raise blood pressure, potassium lowers it. The average American woman gets just 2,300 or so daily milligrams of potassium but needs 4,700. As low potassium contributes to sodium retention, a deficit may put you at risk for high blood pressure. Fight back with fruits, veggies, and other foods naturally high in potassium. Supplements are not good substitutes since they don't have the same effect and can cause nausea and diarrhea.