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How Do You Make Holiday Meals Appropriate for a Low-Salt Diet?

By: Lenora Alabi

The American Heart Association estimates that close to 78 million people have high blood pressure. Only 8 out of 10 people are believed to know it. Just over half of those who know have gotten their blood pressure under control.

One of the recommended ways to control high blood pressure is lowering salt intake. The CDC says that blood pressure typically declines within a few weeks. Countries, where low-salt diets are standard, don't see the same rates of high blood pressure that the U.S. sees. It's an important change to make. It also doesn't have to be that hard to implement during the holidays.

Know How Much Salt is Too Much

Dietary guidelines are that people should not consume more than 2.3 grams, which is about one teaspoon. To stay under this goal, you need to be very particular about reading nutritional labels and understanding the salt content that is naturally found in foods. For example, sardines and canned tuna can be very high in sodium if you're not careful.

Buttermilk and cottage cheese are also high in sodium. Other high-sodium foods include olives, canned vegetables, pasta sauces, salsa, and salad dressings. One tablespoon of balsamic vinegar has 4 mg of sodium. Switching from salad dressings to vinegar helps, but you still need to pay attention to the type of vinegar and other ingredients.

Avoid Brined Turkeys and Meats

Pork, turkey, and other products that have been injected with brine will be higher in sodium than a natural product. When possible, aim for local and farm-raised. Make sure the meat hasn't been injected with a brine or marinade that you didn't make yourself.

Make Your Own Bread and Stuffings

If you make your own bread, you control the sodium. Make a salt-free dough and set one loaf aside. Cube that bread and toast it in the oven. Set it aside until needed. That bread can be used to make a homemade stuffing that has less sodium than a box or bag mix.

Focus on Fresh Vegetables

Serve fresh vegetables. Avoid canned when possible. If you must use canned vegetables, spend the money to get low-salt or salt-free formulas. Canned beans are one of the biggest offenders. Always look for low-salt or salt-free kidney beans, chickpeas, etc.

Outside of the holidays make sure someone is helping your parents stick to their low-salt diet. Caregivers from an elder care agency help with grocery shopping, menu planning, and meal preparations. It's easy to arrange these services. Call an elder care representative to learn more.

Sources:
https://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@sop/@smd/documents/downloadable/ucm_319587.pdf 
https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_sodium.htm 

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