Our bodies only require a small amount of salt for proper nutrition. But the fact is that we all, including our children, consume way more salt -or rather, the sodium - than we should.
Why should we care how much salt (sodium) our children consume?
1. Too much salt (sodium) creates risk for high blood pressure and higher risk
for heart attack. And, we women know salt's affect on bloating!
2. The eating habits of our children will continue in their adulthood - and all too frequently less healthy than they were reared when they face busy schedules they haven't expereinced before.
What is the recommended daily intake of salt (sodium)?
The adult recommended daily intake of sodium in the U.S. is less than 2,400 mg. But, you may be interested to note that the daily recommendation in the UK is less than 1,600 mg! That's quite a difference.
So, who do you trust?
It doesn't take much shopping and looking at the nutrition information on foods to find that they hold a LOT of sodium.
I personally think that the government's recommendation of sodium intake is influenced by prepared food production. I think that they've taken into account how Americans can reduce sodium intake without too much impact on the economy.
But, then again, depending on which association you check, you'll find different recommendations from them all.
There are no intake recommendations for children, but I think that they are important due to the formation of eating habits that I mentioned above.
So, what's a person to do?
Of course, a person should follow the advice of his/her doctor.
But, for me - a healthy adult with great blood pressure - I just use my common sense to guide me.
Tips for easy, common sense salt reduction:
1. Use less salt than recommended in a recipe. I've never found it to affect the taste. Most of the time I totally leave it out - especially if it's accompanied by a product that already contains salt/sodium.
2. Don't let your kids salt at the table. The only time salt is on my dinner table is when company is over. I think that my two younger kids don't even realize that people salt their food at the table. If you do decide to let your kids have additional salt - put it on for them. It comes out faster than they realize and it's hard to see!
3. Check the nutrition label of every food that you buy. You will quickly become aware of how much sodium is in cereal, bread, canned goods, bacon, frozen foods, etc. Having an awareness of how much sodium you are consuming will make reduction much easier
4. Buy low-salt or low-sodium versions of a product. Why eat the extra sodium when you'll adjust to the difference in taste (if any) in a few bites?
5. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
6. Substitute salt with other spices that will give food flavor without adding sodium.
Forming good "salting" habits now, will make things a lot easier for your
children in the future. Do it for them, and you'll be doing it for you too!
Laura Bankston is author of internationally selling Cooking with Kids Curriculum: Homeschool Cooking in a Box and the Homeschool Cookbook.
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