What comes to mind when you think of salt? Is it that salty feeling on your lips after you’ve been in the ocean, your greasy fingers after fish and chips or maybe it’s the thing you crave after a big night! If you were a nutritionist, the first thing that may come to mind is heart health...nowhere near as fun but SO important!
Why do we need salt?
Salt provides our bodies with important electrolytes that are essential in bodily functions, like muscle contractions, nerve transmission and fluid balance. But this isn’t an excuse to sprinkle more salt over your dinner tonight, because our bodies can function with a very small amount of salt, only 1-2grams per day.
Salt is made up of the compounds sodium and chloride, it’s sodium that can be damaging to our health and is why we need to be conscious of our salt consumption.
What are the health effects of high salt?
This is a huge topic of interest with the average Australian consuming double the recommended daily intake of the salt day. Which is 5g of salt or 2000mg of sodium, for some visualisation that’s a little over a teaspoon, so now when thinking of your last meal that sprinkle of salt seems quite precious and that’s not even taking into account all the hidden salt we consume throughout the day.
Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure which is a major risk factor for heart disease, high salt consumption may also lead to kidney disease, stroke, fluid retention and osteoporosis.
Hidden salt explained:
Processed and packaged foods are responsible for most of the salt people consume. Like many other ingredients, salt is hidden or perhaps simply forgotten about, in food like bread, cereals, crackers, drinks, cheese and so on. And that’s not even diving into junk food which we generally know are high in salt. For instance, a small bowl of cornflakes has the same amount as a small packet of chips and some sweet biscuits have just as much or more salt than some savory crackers.
You don’t have to become hardcore salt police to help lower your salt intake throughout the day, but there are some simple steps or lifestyle changes you can make to ensure you’re making healthy choices, so you can sprinkle your pinch of salt guilt-free when cooking at home.
Reading the labels can help you find hidden salt, and give you an understanding of how much salt you are consuming per day. When looking for the best option, it’s important to know that your low salt options should contain fewer than 120 mg of sodium per 100g and moderately salty fewer than 400g of sodium per 100g. Alternatively, you can look out for labels with “reduced salt” or “low salt.”
A few easy swaps to help lower your salt intake:
- Shake herbs and spices instead of salt in your home cooking
- Put down processed foods and choose fresh produce
- Choose mozzarella, ricotta, cottage or swiss cheese over other cheeses
- Remove temptation and take the salt from your dining room table
- Choose plain crackers and unsalted nuts
- Read the labels, and look for the salt content
- Avoid sauces and dressings, and make your own
- Eat more fruit and vegetables
- Cook at home, takeaway food is often high in salt
Low salt is commonly associated with no flavour, maybe because we’ve picked up a few comments from the judges on master chef over the years “seasoning is crucial” or “if you just had a little more salt!” Our taste buds adapt to lower salt in a matter of weeks, but flavour is more than salt, which is evident in many cuisines where the depth of flavours are layered with many powerful ingredients like herbs and spices.
What are the health benefits of herbs and spices?
They’ve been used as healing remedies for decades, naturally sourced and passed along from generation to generation. Science can now back these old wives tales showing that herbs and spices contain anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties due to their chemical compounds, such as phytonutrients. The list could go on forever but here are a few examples of hero herbs and spices.
Sage: derived from a Latin word that means “to save,” as sage was believed to have strong healing properties. Current research suggests that sage may be able to improve brain function and memory.
Peppermint: with a long-standing history in folk medicine and aromatherapy, peppermint was used to help with nausea. Nowadays peppermint oil may relieve IBS pain and is still used in aromatherapy to reduce nausea.
Cinnamon: popular in many recipes, cinnamon has a powerful antioxidant activity and may help with blood sugar levels, fight inflammation and lower cholesterol.
Ginger: your grandma may have told you to have a sip of ginger beer when feeling sick! She wasn’t wrong, studies have now backed up that ginger can help nausea. Ginger also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which can have many positive effects on our health through reduced oxidative stress.
It seems our ancestors knew a thing or two about nutrition and how important food is for our health, these effects almost outshine the fact that herbs and spices are also full of flavour and are key to many dishes.
What about Dineamic?
Our pantry is overflowing with herbs and spices from around the world, this is reflected in our new menu with flavours from East to West. Our meals will take your taste buds on a trip from Mongolian Beef with Basmati Rice, Edamame & Steamed Vegetables to Smokey Chicken with Chat Potatoes, Corn & Black Bean Salsa.
Here are a list of Dineamic meals that sit in the moderately salty guidelines of fewer than 400mg of sodium per 100g.
Smokey Chicken with Roasted Chat Potatoes, Corn & Black Bean Salsa - 13mg per 100g
Chicken Curry Laksa with Rice Noodles - 161mg per 100g
Pesto Chicken with Broccoli & Pasta - 120mg per 100g
Chicken Fajita with Capsicum & Red Onion On Brown Rice - 148mg per 100g
Chicken San Choy Bow with Wild Rice & Green Beans - 120mg per 100g
Sri Lankan Chicken Curry with Basmati Rice & Green Beans - 160mg per 100g
Low FODMAP Butter Chicken With Wild Rice Blend - 151mg per 100g
Sweet Potato & Red Lentil Curry with Basmati Rice - 169mg per 100g
Low FODMAP Beef Bolognese with Penne - 166mg per 100g