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Volume III
September 16, 2011

Weekly Home / No More Blood Sugar Blues

Salt Stuff to Know!

By Alice Osborne

Those of us with blood sugar issues really have to watch our salt intake. While it contains important minerals that are beneficial to the body, in excess it is detrimental.

Body fluids and their distribution in the body depend on the location and concentrations of sodium and potassium ions. Kidneys regulate the blood sodium levels and provide the bloodstream with the exact amount as needed.

When blood levels rise due to excess sodium ingestion, the body's thirst receptors are stimulated and fluid intake increases to balance the sodium to water ration. The excess sodium and water is then excreted by the kidneys. When this balance cannot be maintained the result may be higher blood pressure and an increased deposition of atherosclerotic plaque material.

Here's a pretty good test to see if you're salt intake is too high: Eat a piece of bacon - if it doesn't taste salty, you are consuming too much salt. Excess sodium intake builds up in the bloodstream and the kidneys are unable to clear the excess water the body retains. Then an increase in blood volume occurs and the heart has to work harder causing the aforementioned higher blood pressure.

All this said, here is some salt stuff we ought to know to protect ourselves from eating too much (and this is really easy to do today). First of all, know that fast food restaurants often use high levels of salt to hide the offensive flavors of low quality food. Quick diner beware.

It really is necessary to become a label reader. Many foods contain ingredients that contain sodium. Canned and processed foods are really guilty of this. Many spices also contain sodium as a normal part of their makeup. Here's a quick alphabetical list of some spices and flavorings that are sodium free:

almond extract
bay leaves
caraway seeds
curry powder
lemon extract
maple extract
mustard powder
peppermint extract
sesame seed
vanilla extract
walnut extract

Today's typical table salt is also beefed up with additives - sodium bicarbonate to keep it white, dextrose to stabilize it, and anti-caking agents to keep it "free-flowing." There are a few salts available, though, that are free of this junk. Morton's Special Salt, Redmond's Real Salt and other brands of sea salt, and my favorite, Himalayan salt (which is pink) deliver just sodium and minerals.

One thing we can do to have the flavor of salt without all the harm it causes is to grind dried kelp and put it in the salt shaker. It only contains 4% sodium and the taste is very close to that of salt. The more stuff we know about salt, the better. And the good news is that with just a few changes in the diet, we can enjoy more of the benefits and experience fewer of the detriments!

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