Diane May Nutrition Blog

Shake Out The Salt

February 10th, 2014

Our bodies need a certain amount of sodium to perform daily activities such as to maintain fluid balance, for normal nerve and muscle function and to maintain normal blood pressure.  Too much sodium in the diet, which we consume in the form of salt, can elevate your blood pressure and increase your risk of heart attack,  stroke, osteoporosis, stomach cancer and kidney disease. Excess salt in the diet may cause increased water retention which can lead to puffiness, bloating and weight gain.  In a new study published in Pediatrics, it was found that teenagers who consumed a high-sodium diet tended to be heavier and have more body fat than those who consumed less salt. A new study published in Circulation, has confirmed the findings that lowering sodium intake has a huge impact on health.

But how much salt should you consume?  The American Heart Association recommends a  sodium intake of no more than 2300 milligrams-1 teaspoon, a day.  However, there are certain at risk individuals who need to cut their intake to 1500 milligrams-2/3 of a teaspoon. Those individuals are:

  • People over the age of 50
  • People with diabetes or renal disease
  • People who have high or elevated blood pressure
  • African Americans

Some things you can do to reduce your salt intake:

  • Reduce your intake of processed foods. If you must use canned foods, rinse items thoroughly. Ideally, it is always best to eat fresh.
  • Avoid deli meats, such as cold cuts, for example-packaged ham and turkey.  Look for low sodium options if you go to the counter.
  • Take the salt shaker off the table.  Use fresh herbs and salt substitutes such as Mrs. Dash, lemon and garlic for added flavor. You won’t miss the salt if you use other seasonings.
  • Pay attention to labels.  Foods you would never suspect that are high in sodium can be loaded with salt, such as cereal, bread and soups. If a label has 250 mg it is high and it should have no more than 480 mg per serving. If you see a daily value (%DV) over 20%, it is too high. Always look for low sodium on the label if buying packaged items. Organic does not equal low sodium!
  • Increase your vegetable and fruit intake.  Its important , especially if you develop high blood pressure to increase your Potassium and fiber intake. If you have hypertension, you might consider the DASH diet.

Although sodium is important for our bodies, we only need a very small amount a day.  So start to pay attention to your intake.  Your heart, bones and kidneys will thank you!


Chili-Rubbed Steak Tacos

Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger
Eating Healthy in 2009. Copyright 2005, Ellie Krieger, All Rights Reserved.

Prep: 20 min
Inactive: 15 min
Cook: 12 min
Yield:12 Tacos (serving size is 2 tacos)


1 tablespoon chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
A pinch cayenne pepper
1 1/4 pound top sirloin steaks cut 1-inch thick
12 small corn tortillas (5 to 6 inches in diameter)
3 cups shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 lime, cut into wedges
2 cups Avocado Lime Salsa, recipe follows
Avocado Lime Salsa:
1 large cucumber peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (about 2 cups)
2 avocados, cut into chunks
1/2 red onion, diced
2 limes, juiced (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 jalapeno chiles, chopped, plus more to taste
In a small bowl stir together chili powder, garlic, cinnamon, salt and cayenne pepper. Rub spice mixture on both sides of steaks.

Grill or broil steaks for 5 to 6 minutes on each side for medium rare, turning once. Remove from grill and let meat sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Carve into thin slices.

Warm tortillas by placing them on the grill, for about 30 seconds, turning once. Or place 6 tortillas at a time between 2 moist paper towels and microwave for 45 seconds. Wrap in cloth napkin or place in a tortilla warmer to keep warm. Place the carved steak, warm tortillas, cabbage, cilantro, lime and Avocado Lime Salsa in serving dishes and let diners make their own tacos at the table.

Avocado Lime Salsa:
Place cucumber, avocado and onion in a large bowl and add lime juice and salt. Add cilantro and chiles and toss gently.
Yield: 2 cups (1 serving is 1/3 cup)

Per Serving: Calories: 386; Total Fat: 16 grams; Saturated Fat: 3.5 grams; Protein: 21 grams; Total carbohydrates: 41 grams; Sugar: 4 grams; Fiber: 8 grams; Cholesterol: 46 milligrams; Sodium: 250 milligrams

shake the sodium