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Reduce salt in your diet

By on February 16, 2010

herbs spices
photo by somegeekintn

DEAR SARA: No salt for five days. Help me! I am kicking the salt habit. I love salt more than anything else on earth. I carry salt packets with me, can’t eat without salt, think of salt all the time, and could use a salt lick a day! — Sinopa, Virginia

DEAR SINOPA: I don’t use much table salt, so my answer will probably sound easier said than done. My suggestion is to cut it from your cooking by increasing herbs and sodium-free spices to add flavor to your meals. When shopping, look at products labels for those that are marked sodium-free, very low or reduced sodium. It’s time to put the shaker away. Start thinking about your blood pressure all the time, instead. Cutback on canned and processed foods, and increase your fresh-food intake. You can rinse canned foods to decrease salt, too. Start experimenting with new recipes to cook at home. Finally, talk to your family doctor about your nutritional goals. He or she can refer you to a dietitian who can help you. You’ll soon discover foods taste great without salt. Congratulations on your first five days and wishing you many more.

DEAR SARA: A price book. What exactly is that? I have read several references to a price book. People say they make a price book for stores so they know the best prices. I am not sure exactly what is meant by that statement. Around here, the Prego spaghetti sauce that was $1.94 at Target yesterday can have a label of $2.04 today and $2.29 on Saturday. The labels in other stores change just the same, so I must be missing something. Are you supposed to be putting down sale prices so you know when another sale comes around if it is better than the last one, or just writing down what you paid for items so you know how much you saved for the year? I am really confused. — Shanna, Maryland

DEAR SHANNA: You create a price book with your most commonly bought items. It does take time for it to become effective. It’s simply a notebook that contains item names, prices, unit sizes, unit prices, store names and dates. It helps you compare prices on frequently bought items so you can identify what prices are a good deal. It’s better to rely on your own records than to try to remember prices or accept an advertised price as being the best deal. Your goal is to try to pay less than you’ve previously paid for items.

Once you’ve recorded prices for a few weeks, you might recognize a pattern of when your regularly purchased items go on sale so you can stock up on that product. You can also decide whether you want to pass on an item because the price is considerably higher than you’ve recently paid for it. A price book not only helps you to compare prices; it can be used as a tool to help discourage impulse buying. It helps encourage delayed gratification, too. It won’t take long before you know which store typically carries an item at the cheapest price. You might be surprised by which store has the best deals for the items that you purchase regularly. In time, you’ll discover that you’ll have your own minimum price that you’re willing to pay for an item.


  1. Philip

    2/16/2010 at 1:31 pm

    While there is an awful lot of salt in processed foods and it may be wise to cut down, salt is not something unheard of in the human body. That is to say the risk from consuming salt as compared to aspartame, saccharine, red dye # 5, Acesulfame potassium, yellow dye #3, etc, etc is likely much much less.

    There’s an interesting post over at the Health Journal Club that makes the case that people should just not eat anything that wasn’t a food 100 years ago. Gets rid of the aspartame, bleached GM flour, high fructose corn syrup garbage they try to pass off as food these days. If interested you can read on it here,

  2. Dirac

    2/16/2010 at 2:16 pm

    Why the no salt thing? Is this for people with hypertension or a heart issue already? Most of the recent (if not all) research states that salt (sodium) intake does not lead to high blood pressure. It is pretty much an urban legend at this point, though it was pushed heavily by the federal government.

  3. Sara Noel

    2/16/2010 at 5:00 pm

    Without getting into a politically charged debate, I’ll simply say that I advocate that consumers read their labels and opt for a healthy diet rich with foods based on the pyramid (ie. a diet rich in fruits/veggies). I’m not saying ban salt, nor am I encouraging govt. regulations on salt. But I do think that many people consume too much salt and that my own opinion is that people would benefit from making wiser choices. As with many decisions, the money-go-round is often a source of why the BEST decisions are often delayed. I mean who are you personally going to believe? Your doctor? The Salt institute? The American Heart Association? The National Institutes of Health? etc.
    My point is, salt is essential. How much is debatable. (My) common sense tells me too much of it can’t be good simply based on how our bodies and organs work. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  4. Sabrasue Miller

    2/16/2010 at 10:52 pm

    Is sea salt better than table salt? I have seen conflicting articles.

  5. Matt SF

    2/17/2010 at 12:41 am

    I’ve been on a low sodium diet for about 3 years now. One thing that was hard in the beginning was fighting the urge to reach for the salt shaker, and since that appears to be your weakness as well, I used a salt substitute like Mrs. Dash. Works well to cure your short term cravings.
    .-= Matt SF´s last blog ..Can Google’s ‘Insights for Search’ Make You a Better Investor? =-.

  6. Terry Pearson

    2/17/2010 at 11:24 pm

    I do not use a price book, but have found it helpful to write the prices down along the edge of my shopping list as I purchase the items. This is especially helpful if I am grocery shopping at two or three stores in the same trip.

    Even if I get a worse deal purchasing something at the first store, my shopping list shows me the price and I can make a mental note to purchase from the second store next time.
    .-= Terry Pearson´s last blog ..Get the Facts on Minnesota Budgets =-.

  7. Saule

    2/18/2010 at 12:23 am

    Salt is necessary, but no more than 2000 mg a day. I see a lot of processed foods or even recipes that can have 600-800-1200 mg of salt a serving. My husband is restricted to 600 mg a day, which means I cannot rely on anything canned, pretty much. Liking salty foods is an acquired taste – unlike sugar, which seems to be instinctive.

    Stick with it – using herbs, lemon juice, etc., will help. And it will not take long before you will find that things you buy really seem salty.

    No salt is healthier than any other – that’s a marketing myth.

  8. Linda Dobranetski

    2/18/2010 at 4:21 pm

    Dear Sarah,

    my husband is on a 2000 gram diet because of his heart and high blood pressure and also his cholesterol. what Ohio State University Hospital told us to do is use powders, like garlic powder instead of garlic salt, Mrs. Dash, salt substitutes, buying regular cans of veggies and rinsing them. I have a booklet from OSU about reducing sodium if you need any help.

  9. Robert wagner

    2/24/2010 at 10:12 am

    I agree the sales have a cycle in the stores. Combine the cycle with cupons for better results. i find when chick cutlets are $1.99 I buy 10 lbs. Boneless pork loin might be $20.00 when it’s $1.99 then have the butcher in the store cut and package for no charge.

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