Salt shouldn't be the spice of life

Health: Sodium in the spotlight this week

By: Darlene Casten

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Mar 19, 2014 06:00 am

Bistro Provence French chef Olivier Cazabonne often replaces salt with herbs and spices to keep his food flavourful. March 10 to 16 is World Salt Awareness Week.
Bistro Provence French chef Olivier Cazabonne often replaces salt with herbs and spices to keep his food flavourful. March 10 to 16 is World Salt Awareness Week.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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It’s a cheap way to bring out the flavor in foods, but experts in the kitchen and in the medical field agree that less is more when it comes to salt.

March 10-16 is World Salt Awareness week, but health professionals say sodium should be on people’s minds year round.

“For me its always salt awareness week,” said Sandra Kock Martin, a dietician working at the South Calgary Health Campus in the cardiology department.

Kock Martin said she cooks her own meals to keep her sodium levels low.

“The recommended amount of daily sodium is less than 2,000 milligrams,” she said. “That is a bit less than a teaspoon. I think I am pretty close. I make most of my own food from scratch to make sure I keep it close.”

Most Canadians, however, are consuming far too much salt.

“Most Canadians eat almost double – that’s like 3,000 to 4,000 milligrams,” she said.

High salt intake can cause health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, heart failure, diabetes and kidney disease, Kock Martin said, adding people who already have these conditions need to watch their salt intake very closely.

Keeping salt on the backburner is important, but Kock Martin said its ok to indulge once in a while.

“I always believe in balance and moderation,” she said. “I use the 80/20 rule. Eat 80 per cent healthy food and 20 per cent treats.”

Salt-lovers should cut back slowly to get their sodium levels to a reasonable level, she suggests.

“Salt is an acquired taste,” she said. “So if you cut back slowly your taste buds will get used to it. It takes about three to six weeks to get used to it.”

She said the best way to reduce salt is to avoid packaged, processed foods, eating out and salty foods like deli meat, sausage meat, ham, frozen dinners, canned soup and pickled foods.

French chef Olivier Cazabonne cooks up Parisian delicacies at Bistro Provence in Okotoks and agrees that delicious food should not be doused in salt.

“I use salt a little bit every day, but really small portions,” Cazabonne said.

Keeping cooking simple, using fresh ingredients and using all types of seasoning can result in flavourful food, without using a lot of salt, he said.

He suggests using pepper, oregano, basil and other herbs and ingredients to create great flavor.

“You can boil vegetables without any salt,” he said. “Anything goes with vegetables.”

Cooking for yourself is key to keeping salt low, Cazabonne said.

“It is difficult to control the amount of salt unless you cook for yourself,” he said. “There is salt in bread and tomato sauce. If you don’t cook for yourself, you will have too much (salt). Its best to do your own foods.”

At Bistro Provence, Cazabonne also keeps the salt to a minimum.

“You actually don’t need a lot of salt,” he said. “You need to salt pasta or rice. If you use salted butter you don’t need any more salt.”

There are other ways to put flavor in food, he said.

“We have low salt,” Cazabonne said. “We get a lot of taste with different seasoning and cream.”

For more information on low-sodium recipes, meal-planning ideas, healthy cooking and grocery buying tips go to www.healthyeatingstarts


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