Salty Statistics! And Hide & Eat with Nutrients!
After the recent posting about sugar cravings, one of you fantastic and faithful readers inquired about salt cravings and what that noise was all about. My response: Excellent question! So I set forth to find out and did my research and guess what...salt is a cruel, cruel mineral! Not only do we react to salt much like sugar in that the more we eat, the more we crave because our body gets used to the amount we're giving it and thus wants more, more, MORE all the time (greedy beings that we can be), but the consumption of too much salt can bring on a whole posse of health problems besides just high blood pressure. But let's start with the Why Me first!
There are some funky studies out there, lemme tell ya. Obviously some seem a little less common sense and a little more of the someone-got-bored-in-the-research-lab-today variety. Some are middle of the road, like the one from the "Blame-It-On-Mom department" where they found that there may be a link between your preference for salty foods and the severity of your mother's morning sickness when she was carrying you. For more on that seemingly strange study, click here. Otherwise, let's get to the good stuff: There are actually several reasons why some people crave salt more than others. One being that over the years your taste buds have become so accustomed to salt that if you try to cut back on the stuff your body will simply crave more of it. Your cravings could also be a symptom of adrenal exhaustion, especially if you live a very fast-paced, stressful life or tend to be a little more sensitive to stress than others. Notice I said it could be a symptom of adrenal exhaustion and to learn more you really need to do some research and ask your doc. Start by checking out this website on adrenal fatigue if you think it sounds like a possibility. And lastly (or at least last for being at the top of the list I compiled of major Why Me reasons), you could also crave salt because your body needs the additional minerals found in natural salt. Unfortunately those same minerals have been filtered out of regular table salt, so you'll only be temporarily satisfied until your body figures out that you just tried to pull a fast one on it and it's still missing valuable minerals.
So this begs the question: Is salt really dangerous or addictive? Um, in a word, youbetyoursaltshakeritis! The average American takes in about 15 pounds of salt a year. Not only does that much salt cause high blood pressure and hypertension, but it robs your bones of calcium which can lead to osteoporoses over time. Too much of the white stuff can also cause diabetes (sick of hearing that word everywhere you go yet?), sickle cell anemia and can be a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. So what's the daily dosage supposed to be? About 2,500 mg a day for the average adult. That's less than a quarter-teaspoon of salt per day, which is almost impossible to get unless you're on a medically supervised diet since many foods exceed that amount in a single serving. In fact, health officials say that they really aren't concerned about the salt you might sprinkle into a pot of boiling water or even what you might shake onto your food when it's served, but the concern is on processed and restaurant foods. So what should you do about it? Cut back slowly be replacing salt with spices and herbs when you're cooking at home, which gives you lots of flavor and you will hardly notice the lack of salt. Also try cooking with sea salt instead of table salt, as it has slightly less sodium. If stress and adrenal exhaustion are causing your cravings, try up'ing your intake of vitamin C (citrus fruits, pepper, broccoli) and potassium (apricots, bran wheat, raisins, figs, and baked potato with skin). Also start paying more attention to the labels on the food purchased at the store. Check out the bread labels and you might be surprised to see how much salt is in a slice of the stuff! Pay more attention to the source of the salt and know that many restaurant dishes are swimming in the stuff. I'm not saying don't go out to eat once in a while, we're all human, but be conscientious about what's behind all that flavor you're getting. Is it herbs and spices that you're loving the taste of, or is it mass amounts of sodium? Unfortunately taste isn't always the best indicator either, as a serving of Cheerios actually contains more salt than a serving of Ruffles potato chips. But do what you can and cut back here and there and you'll do just fine.
One more thing on the salt subject...watch out for these Bad Boys at places near you!
The 20 Saltiest Restaurant Foods in America!
20. Saltiest Side Dish: Denny's Honey Smoked Ham, grilled slice. 1,700 mg. sodium, 85 cals.
19. Saltiest Dessert: Atlanta Bread Company Raspberry Scone (thankfully I've never heard of this place!). 1,750 mg sodium, 360 cals.
18. Saltiest Soup: Baja Fresh Chicken Tortilla Soup. 2,760 mg sodium, 329 cals.
17. Saltiest Burger: Hardee's 2/3 lb Monster Thickburger. 2,770 mg sodium, 1,420 cals.
16. Saltiest "Healthy" Food: Chili's Guiltless Grill Chicken Platter. 2,780 mg sodium, 590 cals.
15. Saltiest Pasta: Fazoli's Rigatoni Romano. 3,180 mg. sodium, 1,090 cals.
14. Saltiest Chinese Entree: P.F. Chang's Beef with Broccoli. 3,752 mg sodium, 1,120 cals.
13. Saltiest Breakfast: Arby's Sausage Gravy Biscuit. 3,754 mg sodium, 961 cals.
12. Saltiest Beef Entree: Bob Evans Steak Tips and Noodles. 4,131 mg. sodium, 822 cals.
11. Saltiest Frozen Dinner: Swanson Hungry-Man XXL Roasted Carved Turkey. 4,480 mg sodium, 1,360 cals.
10. Saltiest Bread: Dunkin' Donuts Salt Bagel (hmm...no brainer?). 4,520 mg sodium, 320 cals.
9. Saltiest Sandwich: Quizno's Turkey Bacon Guacomole Large Sub with Cheese and Reduced-Fat Ranch Dressing. 4670 mg sodium, 1,120 cals.
8. Saltiest Pizza: Pizza Hut Meat Lover's Stuffed Crust Pizza (3 slices of the 14" large). 5,070 mg sodium, 1,560 cals.
7. Saltiest Comfort Food: Denny's Meat Loaf Dinner (with mashed potatoes and corn). 5,080 mg sodium, 1,210 cals.
6. Saltiest Salad: Romano's Macaroni Grill Chicken Florentine. 5,460 mg sodium, 840 cals.
5. Saltiest Mexican Entree: Chili's Buffalo Chicken Fajitas. 5,690 mg sodium, 1,730 cals.
4. Saltiest Kid's Meal: Cosi Kid's Pepperoni Pizza. 6,405 mg sodium, 1,901 cals.
3. Saltiest Seafood Entree: Romano's Macaroni Grill Grilled Teriyaki Salmon. 6,590 mg sodium, 1,230 cals.
2. Saltiest Appetizer: Papa John's Cheesesticks with Buffalo Sauce. 6,700 mg sodium, 2,605 cals.
1. Saltiest Dish in America: Romano's Macaroni Grill Chicken Portobello. 7,300 mg sodium, 1,020 cals.
Now on to....Hide & Eat with Nutrients!!
Remember all those nutrients we talked about missing out on above? Here's how to introduce them into foods you love, without loading up on pills or supplements. Some of these you won't even taste when integrated into foods which is perfect for those people who don't care for the following 4 veggies and fruits. So hide away!
Nutrients: Folate, vitamin C, fiber, mono-unsaturated fats.
Sneak it into: Strawberry smoothies, ranch dressing
How: Purée ½ avocado with 2 cups smoothie or or 1 cup dressing.
Nutrients: Vitamin C, folate
Sneak it into: Mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, cheese sauce
How: Cook 1 cup cauliflower florets; drain. Purée with a bit of water or milk until smooth. Mash in equal parts with potatoes; whisk ½ cup into 2 eggs before scrambling; or whisk ¼ cup into 1 cup cheese sauce.
Nutrients: Vitamin A, fiber, beta-carotene, alpha-carotene
Sneak it into: Ketchup, pasta sauce
How: Blend ¼ cup canned pumpkin purée with 1 cup ketchup or pasta sauce; or whisk ¼ cup into 1 cup warm cheese sauce.
Nutrients: Vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, fiber, lutein, beta-carotene
Sneak it into: Chocolate shakes, pasta sauce, brownies, zucchini muffins
How: Purée ¼ cup frozen, thawed chopped spinach with 2 cups chocolate shake or 1 cup pasta sauce before cooking; or mix ½ cup into brownie or muffin batter before baking.
Happy Hiding and Eating!