The Salt Shaker
adults generally consume much more salt than our bodies need.
Why? It's simple: we like the taste of salt. In fact, sensory
tests have shown that when the salt level in food is reduced,
food acceptability also decreases. The mineral sodium is a major
component of table salt. Therefore it's no surprise that consumers
frequently shun reduced-sodium foods.
some of us need to decrease our salt "habits" for
health reasons. While the value of a lower-sodium diet in preventing
or treating hypertension has been controversial, one recent
large-scale, highly regarded study indicates that certain people
get good results from limiting sodium. The DASH (Dietary Approaches
to Stop Hypertension)-Sodium study showed that those people
with high (above 140/90) and high-normal (120/80-139/89) blood
pressures were able to lower their pressures significantly on
a diet containing 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day. That's less
than half of what the average American eats.
your doctor has suggested you follow a reduced-sodium diet,
you'll probably be referred to a registered dietitian, who will
show you ways to decrease the sodium content of your diet. Some
of these ideas may include:
fewer processed foods, more fresh foods
more herbs and spices in cooking
with less salt, or no salt at all
only a small amount at the table
MSG in a Reduced-Sodium Diet
If you're watching your sodium intake, you are probably an avid
label-reader. You may have learned to avoid all ingredients
that contain the word "sodium" in their names. Generally,
this is a pretty good idea. However, some ingredients, such
as monosodium glutamate, include the word "sodium,"
yet are not actually high in the mineral. In fact, if you're
following a diet that's only moderately restricted in sodium,
using MSG in cooking may be advantageous.
Why? Because MSG has less than 1/3 the sodium of table salt
(700 mg per teaspoon), and also acts as a flavor enhancer. By
using a little MSG and cutting down on salt (often by half),
you can reduce the overall amount of salt in a dish without
a flavor loss!
Here's an example:
8 cups (8 servings)
1 pound dried black beans
2 quarts water
3 teaspoons salt (1
3/4 teaspoons salt)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped green pepper (optional)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon monosodium glutamate
to reduce sodium content!
beans in water overnight or use quick-cook method
soaking beans, add salt and bring to a boil; cover
and simmer on low heat for 2 hours.
oil, add onions, and sauté about 5 minutes.
Add green pepper and sauté until onions are
in remaining ingredients. (add
MSG here). Add about 3/4 cup hot bean liquid,
cover and simmer 10 minutes.
onion seasoning mixture to beans and continue to
cook 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
with rice, if desired.
Modified from The American Diabetes Association
and The American Dietetic Association Family Cookbook,
Volume II, 1984.
1-cup serving, without rice)
Recipe Using MSG
Granted, for people on strict sodium reduction diets, using
MSG may not be an option. It's best to consult with your dietitian
about whether this cooking technique is appropriate for your