Salt used to be my favorite food. It made anything scrumptious. I’d taste food with one hand on the salt shaker in anticipation of the need for flavor enhancement. Cheese popcorn, Chinese food, and salted nuts could make my day.
Then I learned that a close friend was on daily high blood pressure medication.
“But you barely weigh a hundred pounds!” I said.
“Yeah, well, allow me to enlighten you. You don’t have to be overweight to have high blood pressure. It snuck up on me, and it can become one of your life-long buddies as well.”
As I often do with what is news to me, I shared my friend’s plight with others. My nail technician told me of her divorce from salt.
“No matter how hard I try,” she said, “I’ll always get some sodium. But I don’t cook with salt, put salt on my food at the table, or eat salty snacks.”
Deepest sympathy, I thought, until I got a physical and my former unusually low blood pressure was in the borderline range. Not the kid, I thought, and changed my ways.
I looked up the dietary guidelines for the upper limit of sodium per day–2300 milligrams or one teaspoon. Ouch. The American Heart Association recommends a lower amount, 1500 milligrams, which has been the recommended upper limit for persons over 51 years of age, Black Americans, and for persons with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. Gulp.
It took time. I first eliminated most condiments–salad dressing, soy sauce, hot sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and other steak sauces. Next I reduced salty snacks, and minimized processed foods. Eventually, I gave up meat since it tasted yucky without salt, stopped adding salt to food as I cooked, and was able to keep one hand in my lap instead of hovering near a sodium fix.
I became curious about the amount of salt in the foods I ate. Bread, tomato sauce, and practically anything in a can or box had amounts that surprised me.
As a Seasoned woman, I’m determined to eat to maintain mobility, alertness, and general good health. My ankles used to swell at the end of the day. No more. I’ve learned to season food with fresh herbs, onions, shellfish, and flavored aged balsamic vinegar–affordable since I gave up meat.
Take my challenge to reduce the amount of salt in your diet. I’ll share some of my meals that are tasty without salt in future postings.