You Salty, huh?

saltyWe as humans are creatures of habit, we do what we’re used to and don’t even question it. This personally reigns true for me when I’m sitting at a dining table and sprinkle some table salt on my food when it doesn’t meet my flavor standards. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that this additional ingredient puts a toll on my well-being.

I generally eat pretty clean, so I had to pause for a minute and question why my seemingly harmless avocado toast was making me feel so bloated and sluggish. My thought process was that I’m better off adding salt and pepper to my food rather than a hefty sauce, butter, cheese, or dressing. Which is true in most senses, but becoming too dependent on salt only causes sluggishness, bloating and cravings for fatty foods.

I realized that once I stopped adding salt to my food I felt comfortably full, extremely energized and not bloated. Once I noticed this difference it made it easy for me to decide to give up table salt for the year. I found myself broadening my horizon to the healthy alternatives to salt and realizing how little sodium we actually need in our diet.

According to the American Heart Association, it is recommended that we consume 1,500 mg of sodium a day -which is less than the amount of salt found in a teaspoon. Despite your current health status, this is an easy initiative to limit your risk factors to cardiovascular disease.

If your preferred salt intake is that of a deer’s attraction to a salt lick, this might be a troubling thought to you. However, it is easier than you think to flavor your food without salt, here’s how.

 

  • Lemon: What we tend to love about salt is it’s slight tang. What better way to make up for this with a squeeze of some fresh and tangy lemon juice?
  • Pepper: I have always added pepper to my food, personally if it’s not spicy or flavorful I’m pretty bored with that food. So I always make sure to add Cayenne pepper, or black pepper.
  • Vinegar: Vinegar is a great alternative to salt. Balsamic vinegar can help lower blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels according to livestrong.com. Plus, a little bit goes a long way when it comes to vinegar.
  • Garlic: Adding garlic to food is the perfect zest for you non pepper eaters. Not only does it give food a satisfying, hearty taste but it helps speed up your metabolism and is a good source of iron according to whfoods.org.

 

February is just around the corner, which is American Heart month. What better time than now to make this simple change that can greatly improve your cardiovascular health? Broaden your palate horizon, limit your salt intake and indulge in an energized and healthy lifestyle.

“It’s a good day to have a good one.”

-Alena Purpero

Sweet or Salty?

picWe have all heard of the expressions, “ I have a sweet tooth,” or “I crave salty foods” from time to time, but have you ever stopped to think about what exactly that means? I have plenty of friends who crave burgers and French fries, but those things never really appealed to me. On the other hand, put a cookie in front of my face and I’m hopeless. After thinking about this for a little bit it got me to think that maybe it’s a little bit more that just different taste buds.

Salty Cravings.

Craving salt can come from a few different sources. One reason why you may crave salt is because you have a mineral deficiency. Our bodies do need salt (About a Tsp. a day) so if it is not getting the normal dosage of natural salt you will begin to turn towards salty foods such as chips or French fries. I also found a study in my research that suggests that salt cravings could be due to lack of calcium in your diet. According to Michael Tordoff, Ph. D., a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, “Sodium temporarily increases calcium levels in the blood, which tricks the body into thinking the problem is solved.” The study also goes on to saying that lack of potassium, calcium, and iron may also be the cause for all those salty cravings! Another reason you may be craving all those French fries is because you are dehydrated. If you are someone who needs salty foods after an intense workout, you may have lost too many electrolytes from sweating. Try replenishing your body with a Gatorade or another electrolyte booster drink.

Careful! Although our bodies need salt, too much salt could lead to trouble. An excessive amount of salt could cause you to feel dizzy, or dehydrated. Even worse, over a long period of time eating too much salt can lead to high blood pressure and a higher risk of a heart attack.

Sweet Tooth

Now on to the “sweet tooths” of the world, such as myself. When I looked up the cause of having a sweet tooth, the word serotonin came up a few times. For those who aren’t quite sure what that is (me) here is the textbook definition:

“Serotonin is a chemical created by the human body that works as a neurotransmitter. It is regarded by some researchers as a chemical that is responsible for maintaining mood balance, and that a deficit of serotonin leads to depression.”

So for short, serotonin is a chemical that makes you feel good. One food that is known for releasing serotonin in the brain is chocolate. So every time you need a quick pick me and want to feel good, reaching for that chocolate bar wouldn’t be surprising. Even though dark chocolate is actually good for you, chocolate donuts, chocolate ice cream, or chocolate cookies are not. Unfortunately. Another reason for sugar cravings is sleep deprivation. Since sweets usually have a lot of sugar in them, eating a cupcake will give you a quick sugar spike that will make you temporarily forget you’re sleep deprived.

Whether it is salty or sweet food cravings can come from all over the place, and the best thing to do when they strike is know how to handle it! Make sure your body is always properly hydrated and well rested. Stop rewarding yourself with a cookie when you do something good! Thinking that sweets are a reward just tricks our body into the cycle that good=sweets, which ultimately equals bad. Cravings can also come from your sensory to foods. Don’t give into eating ice ream because it’s cold and feels good on a hot day.

Just incase you need a little bit more on good foods to turn to when those cravings hit, check out this chart provided by MindBodyGreen:

What are you Craving?          Examples                                       Try instead…

Chewy                                      Cookies, brownies                          Oatmeal bars, dried fruit

Crunchy                                    Chips, crackers                              Crisp veggies like carrot

Cold                                          Ice cream; Milk shakes                  Frozen bananas

Creamy                                     Pudding; Creamed soups              Greek yogurt, avocados

Tangy                                       Salad dressing; Ketchup                Lemon, salsa

 

Stay Healthy, Stay Strong.

Mary Marren