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September 21, 2007

Salt Intake; Is It Making You Fat?

By Meredith Thompson

Do you know that an increased salt intake makes you retain water? Of course you did. But did you know that an increased salt intake also makes cellulite more prominent and visible? That’s right, and although salt is necessary to sustain life, chances are you’re salt intake is likely eating too much of it.

Salt, a very popular white crystalline used to make food more palatable, comes in many different forms, although the debate over how good it is for you is still on the table. Next to the pepper.

FACTOID: Salt is 40% sodium and 60% chloride.

Registered dietitians recommend that the average healthy woman consume anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 milligrams of sodium a day (2,000 milligrams = 1 teaspoon). The problem, however, is that most of us are downing anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 milligrams each day. This is way too much sodium.

There is a host of salts available on the market, the best of which is considered sea salt, as it has a softer taste.

Although salt comes from salt mines and from the sea, most of today’s salt comes from huge deposits left by dried salt lakes all over the world.

Read on to discover how much salt you’re actually eating, what type you should be eating (if any) and what to do if you end up at your mom-in-law’s and she’s serving up salted fish for dinner.

Salt causes cellulite

As aforementioned, high salt intake causes water retention, and in turn makes cellulite look even more unsightly. Now keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily cause cellulite, but it sure as hell makes it look even dimplier and gross.

So by reducing your salt intake, you’ll be reducing the appearance of dimply skin. And that is always a good thing in my book.

For many women, the way salt is making us appear when we step on the scale isn’t very healthy for our morale, either. That said, here are some things you can do to ensure that you’re on the right track when it comes to salt intake.

Eat less salty snacks
When you’re starving, you need sustenance immediately. And when it comes to immediate foods, you’re usually left with undesirable foods like chips, pretzels, nuts, and cold cuts.

The problem with these foods is that they usually contain a whole lot of salt. If you’re going to have any of these snacks in your home, make sure that they contain no salt.

Read ingredient labels
The beauty of food labels is that all the information is right there for you, so you can see what kind of potential damage you might be doing to your body if you opt to ingest it.

That said, labels clearly indicate the amount of sodium you’ll be ingesting per serving of a given product. So be vigilant about minding your salt intake and put down the Saltines.

Go for “low-salt” or “reduced-sodium” options
If you usually buy chicken broth to put in the food you cook, opt for the “now with 30% less salt,” version of it. In all fairness, it doesn’t taste much different and it’s that much better for you.

Avoid using canned foods
Your best bet when it comes to using produce, fish or meat, is to opt for fresh or frozen varieties rather than canned because canned products tend to use a lot of salt to preserve whatever is in them.

If you happen to have many cans in your home as you’re reading this, what you can do for now is rinse whatever’s in them to wash away some of the salt content and instantly reduce your salt intake.

Pickled & smoked are bad words
I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but pickled products, such as pickles and hot peppers, become that way via salted brine. Smoked products, such as smoked salmon and smoked meat, become that way because a layer of salt is used in the smoking process.

I know they taste like heaven, but you need to reduce, if not eliminate, these items from your diet.

Use other spices
Salt is customarily used to make food taste better, but it’s time you started experimenting with spices and added some flair to your dishes. Get your hands on some garlic powder, oregano, coriander, cayenne pepper, and a host of other spices to flavor up your food.

Seasonings like lemon juice, rosemary and ginger are also great at adding some zest to your food without the addition of salt. And if people like salty foods in your family, then let them add some after the dish is served.

Make your own salt substituteIf using just garlic powder is not cutting it for you, create your own seasoning, put it in a shaker and place it on the table as a salt replacement.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

1 tsp. ground basil
1 tsp. ground marjoram
1 tsp. ground thyme
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. savory
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. sage
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. garlic powder

Reduce your salt intake

Salt is not terrible in moderation, but considering that most packaged food already contain salt, you’d do best to avoid adding anymore to your diet.

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