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Dr Russ Blog - What About Salt in Recipes?
What About Salt in Recipes?
Created on 6/3/2011

B has seen my blog posts on salt and the yourwellness information recommending lower salt / sodium intakes.

But he has also seen recipes that call for salt - his question is, if we are promoting good health through healthy nutrition, why do some recipes call for salt?

A good question, and one that can be readily answered.

First, as you know, experts have recommended that we lower our daily sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day or less (that's a little more than 1/2 a teaspoonful of salt from all sources!) - this is especially important for African Americans, people with high blood pressure, and people over age 50.

Salt, also known as sodium chloride, is the primary dietary source of sodium, although it can also be found in many other places (including medications). But it also adds flavor to our meals - what to do?!

Keep in mind that the most significant source of sodium in the American diet is highly processed food, which includes fast food (which is unhealthy for us on a number of levels...).

So, can you add a little salt to your favorite recipe?

Yes - a little salt. And you can adapt your recipes to make up for less salt by adding taste in other ways.

For example, my friend Beth Avery, RD and I work closely with the Harris Teeter chefs to design tasty and healthy recipes that can be found under the yourwellness tab on the Harris Teeter web site.

The chefs' main job is to make the recipe delicious.

Our job is to also make it good for you. Fortunately, we work well together!

One area of concern that often comes up is salt - the chefs may want to include salt in the recipe to provide added flavor. We ask them to cut the amount of salt in the recipe for health reasons, and they do, sometimes adding other ingredients for flavor enhancement instead.

That's just one of the beautiful things about cooking at home - you can get creative!

Just because a recipe calls for salt, even a recipe found on Harris Teeter's web site, it doesn't mean you have to use the amount stated in the recipe, or use salt at all. You might instead choose ginger, or curry, or minced garlic - whatever you feel would be good-tasting and appropriate for your meal - and healthy.

Keep in mind, also, that while a recipe might call for 1 teaspoonful of salt (which contains 2,300 mg of sodium), it typically is meant to feed 4-6 people (cutting the sodium ingested by each person down to between 380-575 mg).

I minimize the use of salt in my cooking, in fact rarely using it at all; but for those of you who like to use salt in the kitchen, just keep it to a minimum, even if the recipe calls for more.

And keep the salt shaker on your dining table empty...

Thanks for your question, B, and be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **


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