Cut the salt

I’ve heard it before, “I don’t use the salt shaker so I don’t have to worry about salt intake.” Wrong. Seventy-five percent of the salt in our diets comes from the salt added by food processors so even if you don’t touch the salt shaker you are getting more salt than you realize.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends reducing sodium intake (salt is 40% sodium and the rest is the mineral chloride) to 1,500 milligrams a day. That is equal to 2/3 teaspoon of salt. Cutting sodium intake to 1,500 milligrams a day is a herculean task for most of us–especially if you eat out. Consider that 2 slices of Pizza Hut Supreme pizza has 1,780 milligrams of sodium and Olive Garden’s Shrimp Caprese has 3,490 milligrams of sodium–so you can see why it is so difficult to get to the recommended 1,500 milligrams per day.

Many food companies are jumping on the lower sodium recommendations and that is good news for all of us. One of my favorite pantry items is canned beans–kidney beans, black beans, and garbanzo beans all make an appearance in my meals. The bean has everything–protein (much more than other veggies), fiber, vitamins and minerals. Up until now, canned beans also had a lot of sodium, but now there are two solutions for reducing sodium in canned beans. One is using the line of Bush’s lower sodium beans. They’ve cut the sodium in half in canned beans. The second is the drain and rinse technique. Researchers put this method to the test and found that draining canned beans reduces sodium by 36% but draining and rinsing can reduce sodium by 41%.

So next time you reach for a versatile can of beans, drain the beans in a colander for 2 minutes, rinse under tap water for 10 seconds, and let the beans drain for 2 minutes for easy an sodium reduction to get you on your way to 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day.