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What's your take on sodium?

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Old 02-25-2011, 10:46 AM   #1
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Default What's your take on sodium?

Let's talk about sodium. I see it come up all the time - "watch out for this and that, it's loaded with sodium" or "season however you want but watch out for salt" or "don't go over so many mg of sodium per day" etc.

As far as I can tell, there are two reasons for avoiding sodium:

(1) It's connected with high blood pressure
(2) It causes fluid retention which can make you feel bloated and cause the numbers to go up on the scale

Speaking just for myself, now, I have never had an issue with (1) - I've never had a medical reason to watch my salt. As for (2), a bounce here and there is something I am willing to put up with in exchange for food that actually tastes like something.

Now I don't eat, and never have eaten, much in the way of processed commercial foods or fast foods. So, when I talk about my own sodium intake, I'm talking about salt I put in my own cooking or salt I get in quality restaurant food. Salt is a wonderful seasoning, a miracle seasoning - it brightens and deepens other flavors, it makes vegetables vibrant in color, it make salad greens taste wonderful without needing any oil or dressing, it draws the moisture out of meats so they brown wonderfully. I use it liberally, as do, I'm sure, the chefs at my favorite restaurants.

So what all of this adds up to is: for me, I love salt, I rely on it to help make my healthy, on-plan food tasty and delicious. So is there any reason I should even think about it? Given that I have no blood pressure issues and given that fluid bounces don't drive me crazy, what else should I know about sodium? Are these the only reasons people eschew this wonderful stuff, or is there more going on there? What's your take?
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Old 02-25-2011, 10:53 AM   #2
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A few years ago, I cut out added salt completely. It was amazing how my tastebuds changed and that foods became more flavorful without salt. I was happy with the decision but then my blood pressure went way too low and I started having issues. Since then, I've added some salt back into my diet and my blood pressure has normalized.
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Old 02-25-2011, 10:56 AM   #3
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i dont know any other reasons to avoid it other than what you have said. if im eating something proccesed i dont add salt, but if im cooking something myself i do add a bit. i noticed something the other day, i bought a can of unsweetened unsalted corn and it was horrible! completely tasteless. i couldnt believe the difference between that and the normal stuff. i love food and the idea of eating only bland stuff isnt appealing to me, but i do go for the lower sodim options in certain things, stock and gravy etc.
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:01 AM   #4
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Salt is not so bad and even the blood pressure studies are not conclusively related to salt intake, How crazy is that? I've been doing a lot of reading and salt gets a bad rap from a bad study.

I enjoy salt too and I have NOT decreased my intake with this weight loss journey and like you, I do not eat commercially prepared foods, but foods at home. I had ham (WHole foods ham) yesterday and for a day my weight jumped up. Well, OK, it was water, so what. Next day it was gone.

And I do have recently developed blood pressure issues and with eating healthier and exercising, I've already halved the dosage - without changing my salt intake. And even the best studies say only half the population is salt sensitive.

And instead of reducing salt if you are salt sensitive - up your potassium - it's the balance of the two that is important. Good sources of potassium? Avocado and nuts (better than bananas). and any fruit, basically.

Oh, and sea salt is a better balance as it has other minerals - like potassium and magnesium, etc.
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:24 AM   #5
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My take on it is that salt does not make you fat. You may retain a little bit of water after an usually high sodium day, but it is part of normal fluctuations and will go down. I have no bp problems, but did during my first pregnancy. One of my OBs told me to limit salt, his partner said it didn't matter because the negative effects of sodium on bp were not medically proven.

I made homemade chicken teriyaki yesterday. One of my favorite recipes, and the sauce and marinade contain a lot of soy sauce. Yup, my weight is up by a half-pound today, but it is not fat, it is water and will be gone by tomorrow.
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:27 AM   #6
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I don't watch out for it either unless I'm worried about the scale going up. I know I am retaining water today for example, because I've had sodium heavy foods yesterday. It's no surprise it's showing up on the scale today.

I take my blood pressure regularly (for the **** of it, since I've never had a problem) and it hasn't gone up. It's normally in the middle to low range.

I also try to eat as unprocessed as possible.
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:29 AM   #7
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I don't eat processed food either so I don't worry about it. But I love salt and use it on my foods. I use kosher or sea salt since the larger grains and flakes give a better flavor. And I buy my chocolate with salt in it, too.
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:33 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nelie View Post
A few years ago, I cut out added salt completely. It was amazing how my tastebuds changed and that foods became more flavorful without salt. I was happy with the decision but then my blood pressure went way too low and I started having issues. Since then, I've added some salt back into my diet and my blood pressure has normalized.
THIS^^!!!

A little salt does "enhance" flavor...but alot of salt (which is what you get when you eat out at restaurants) only "masks" the "real" flavor of food. I find that I can actually taste food now that I limit my sodium intake...for example...unsalted cashews...ooohhh...the nutty goodness I previously missed in the salted version.
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:42 AM   #9
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We use Salt Lite at home which is 1/2 salt and 1/2 potassium.

Since we are salt-aholics we can use salt lite guilt free!
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Old 02-25-2011, 11:49 AM   #10
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I grew up with no salt, we never added it to anything. To this day, I don't add it to foods, and generally when things call for it, I omit it.

When others prepare foods, wether I'm out at a place or at a friends, I can always tell if something has salt, I guess I'm overly sensitive to it now.

Lol, I don't even fill the salt shaker, only the pepper shaker. My DH was in for a wake up call when we got married, but now he doesn't use it either. Poor guy.
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Old 02-25-2011, 12:05 PM   #11
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Some people are more sensitive to salt also. Generally if you suffer from high blood pressure it's recommended to cut it out as much as possible.

I don't have high blood pressure BUT I did at one point, I do not add salt to pretty much anything I cook at home unless a recipe specifically calls for it but even that is rare for me cuz most recipes can omit them (I don't omit for things like baked goods though).

If salt doesn't affect you then go for it- but if you have high blood pressure, hypertension, etc, lowering the salt is very necessary.

I also agree though- since not using salt in my diet my taste buds have changed and I the taste of food is even better- there are MANY more seasonings and spices out there than just salt. Thyme, garlic, onion, paprika, oregano, cajun, etc.
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Old 02-25-2011, 05:09 PM   #12
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I never worried about it until recently - I've been switching to a higher protein and fat diet, and with that comes a lot of canned beans, eggs, lunch meat, etc. It's honestly amazing how much sodium food manufacturers can stuff into something as innocuous as a can of green beans!

So for me, the issue isn't eating too much fast food or adding too much table salt to my meals - it's the amount of sodium that's acceptable in commercially packaged foods that are supposed to be "healthy". And I definitely find that consuming more sodium that way causes me to hold water and slows down my weight loss.
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Old 02-25-2011, 05:33 PM   #13
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Salt that you add during cooking or at the table doesn't even BEGIN to approach the amount of sodium in processed foods (1/4 tsp of table salt has something like 590 mg sodium. And who adds a quarter-teaspoon of salt to any one serving of anything?) I wouldn't sweat it.
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Old 02-25-2011, 06:05 PM   #14
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Hah, my thread got moved to the food and cooking forum. I'm not convinced it belongs here - it's not about food or cooking, it's about sodium intake - but then perhaps it doesn't belong in the Support forum either, so I'll happily defer to the moderators' decision.

Anyhow - I want to thank you all for the comments - you have all pretty much said exactly what I want to hear and so I will happily go on liberally adding salt along with all the other seasonings that go into my cooking.
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Old 02-25-2011, 09:11 PM   #15
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I also love salt. I use Salt Sense because I'm really prone to retaining water and I wake up puffy as a blow fish if I over do it. But I have heard things about salt causing food cravings. A friend of mine did some salt free diet once and she told me the book she based it on said that the salt will cause cravings for ......something, not sure. But I've always been curious about this, too.
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