In case you haven’t heard — and let’s be honest, you’ve either been living in a cave or don’t ever read, watch television or use the Internet if this is the case — Americans are eating far too much salt.
The Reporter’s own Dee Woods has stated as much while noting there is a difference between “good” salt — the kind that comes from the ocean and is unprocessed — and “bad” salt — the kind known as “table salt” that most everyone uses whether at home or at a restaurant. This article will talk only about the bad salt, which should be consumed in amounts of no more than one-half teaspoon a day.
What is astounding is that we’ve known for years too much salt is bad for our health, yet salt consumption has risen to extraordinary levels. This is in part because of Americans’ insatiable appetites for fast food, which may as well be labeled “salt with a side of (name your meal).” Yes, salt brings out the flavors in foods, but most foods aren’t so terrible that they can’t do without it. We’ve just been conditioned since childhood to believe food just isn’t very tasty without it.
Salt can be found in almost everything that doesn’t grow in the Earth. Restaurant food, snack foods, microwavable meals and almost everything canned. Chefs on TV make delicious-looking foods using copious amounts of this crystalline compound.
Sodium is necessary for life, we can’t live without it. But excessive salt intake can contribute to high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and cardiovascular disease. It can also cause dehydration, which causes myriad ailments including headache and cramps.
Avoid too much salt by eating fresh raw vegetables and cooking at home, rather than eating out. Steam your vegetables, and resist the temptation to sprinkle them with salt — really, your food doesn’t need it. Try seasoning with onions, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and herbs and spices such as thyme, basil, oregano, cayenne and paprika. Not only are these seasonings good, they’re good for you. Try them in soups and salads, or marinate your meat with them. Cayenne may be the best of the bunch — this powerful pepper (careful, it’s hot) can dilate blood vessels and reduce blood pressure to such a degree it has been documented to stop a heart attack in its tracks. Apple cider vinegar is also great, it may help prevent the buildup and even eliminate already existing arterial plaque.
Use these seasonings well, lay off the salt, eat healthy and keep drinking wine.
Anthony Scarano is not a doctor. He is an 88-year-old Evergreen Park resident, winemaker and certified naturopath. Suggestions in this space are solely the opinions of Mr. Scarano based on years of independent study and personal experience, and may not be beneficial to health. Wine should be consumed in moderation, as overindulgence may be harmful to health.