Photo: The Sacramento Bee
As you know, I do not believe in perfection. "The perfect is the enemy of the good", as Voltaire so eloquently said (although it sounds much better in French). I believe in doing the best I can and leaving perfection to Bo Derek, or Itzhak Perlman...
But certain things require a slightly greater effort in that, if you don't really truly try your best, you could end up in bad, bad shape. Like sodium intake, for instance.
Sodium is important to our bodies. It's an element that we do need to be healthy. The problem is, when you overdo the sodium, you risk high blood pressure, leading to heart attacks and strokes--need I say more?
Although the recommended intake is no more than 1,500 grams per day, in North America we average double that amount. Worse yet, as usual, that "recommended intake" is no doubt for a mysterious, 5'10", 150-pound male stranger. That leaves many of us needing even LESS salt.
Even if you personally use very little salt, salt is everywhere.
Processed foods contain excessive amounts of sodium. Just take a walk down the aisles of your local grocery store: peanut butter (if you don't specifically buy the no salt, no sugar version), salted butter, salted margarine, tinned soups, cheeses, bread, cereals, salad dressings, crackers, meals in a box...Clamato juice, BABY FOOD for crying out loud. Oh, and let's not forget restaurant food. It just makes me want to cringe.
Interestingly, some countries have more sodium added to their foods than others. Canadian food businesses are a prime culprit. Our canned soups have more salt than the same soups in the States. The companies say that that's the way we like our food. I say: "no one asked me!"
So what's the solution? Eat fewer processed foods and buy the low or no-salt versions of foods you like. In my house, we haven't bought regular peanut butter in so many years that on the rare occasions when I taste "regular" (read: salted and sugared) peanut butter, my tastebuds are in shock. Read labels. When you have the choice, buy the lower salt version. It might also be the version that contains fewer, or no, preservatives.
And of course, the best line of defence: try to buy fresh, unprocessed food and don't add extra salt.