If you ate a bagel for breakfast this morning, you’ve already had a big chunk of the maximum amount of sodium you should have for the day. Going beyond that amount is pretty common though. According to a government report earlier this year, nine of ten adults consume more than the recommended amount of dietary sodium – 2,300 milligrams of sodium, which is about one teaspoon.
One of AICR’s recommendations for cancer prevention is to limit how much salt and salty foods you eat. Our report last week found that salt preserved foods commonly eaten in Asia link to increased risk of stomach cancer and although those foods aren’t a staple in the US, Americans’ salt-loving habits lead to other health problems like high blood pressure and increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
A small part of that is the salt you add at the table. Most of your sodium comes from salt already added to foods that you buy.
If you’re anything like the average American, you’re consuming way too much sodium. You may have tried to kick the habit, but found that you just don’t like the taste of low sodium foods as much.
A recent study published in the journal Appetite may help. Researchers split about 150 participants into three groups to test how much they liked three soups over repeated tastings: a standard tomato soup, a low sodium
tomato soup, and a low sodium tomato soup seasoned with herbs and spices.
On the first day of the study, everyone tasted samples — about two tablespoons each — of all three soups. For the next three days, participants ate larger portions of their one assigned soup. On the last day, all three groups again sampled small portions of the three soups. Participants rated how much they liked each soup every day.
Results from the study suggest three strategies that can help you cut back on sodium without sacrificing flavor:
- Find the blend that you like best. Before beginning the study, researchers tested three different herb and spice blends to add to the low sodium soup: blends were based around basil, cumin and coriander, or oregano. No one blend was a clear favorite among participants overall, but individual participants had definite preferences. The lesson is to find the herb and spice blend that you prefer.
You may love spicy foods while a friend prefers milder flavors. But we all have different taste sensitivities and perceptions. In the American diet, many of us have one taste in common: a preference for and high consumption of salty foods.
Limiting your sodium is important to reduce your risk for high blood pressure (and likely stomach cancer). You don’t have to sacrifice flavor when you cut back on salt! Here are seven tricks I’ve found that help:
1. Go Slow: Our bodies quickly become accustomed to salt so cut back slowly, starting with holding back on the salt shaker at the table. The American Heart Association recommends that all Americans aim for <1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. Slowly reducing your intake to this amount over the next month or two will allow your taste buds to adjust so you can enjoy the natural flavors of foods. Continue reading