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Salt and Diabetics

Fitness for mind and body.

It is very important for diabetics to lower salt-sodium chloride-intake, as all too often diabetes is complicated by high blood pressure, a major cause of both heart disease and stroke.

Salt Shaker

Many food manufacturers are recognizing the public's growing concern about salt and have begun to offer "reduced salt" or "no salt" alternatives. Restaurant owners are also more willing to prepare food with less salt-especially when asked to do so.

Salt/sodium does play an essential role in our diets so we need not cut it out entirely. We just need to watch it a bit more and for diabetics, this is crucial to your health.

The components of salt, sodium and chloride, are essential nutrients, and with potassium, they are the main regulators of the body's water-balance system. The average person in the United States consumes between two to three teaspoons of salt a day-about 20 times the amount of sodium really needed. For most people, the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council recommends 2,200 mg of sodium as a desirable daily intake. That is equivalent to one teaspoon of salt. Check with your health care provider for recommendations.

Reduced sodium soy sauce, canned tomatoes, and canned chicken or beef broth should be the only way you use these otherwise high-sodium products. Naturally salty foods such as anchovies, capers, dill pickles, canned tuna, etc. one should consume in moderation, or cut out of the diet completely.

Here are some ways to keep salt under control:

Cook without salt, and taste the food before adding it after it's cooked. Once you've cut back on salt, you'll find few foods actually need very little, if any.

Retrain your taste buds to appreciate herbs and spices in place of salt. Basil, bay, dill, marjoram, mint, parsley, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, and thyme are particularly good salt replacement herbs. Read the labels on the foods that you buy at the store and, whenever possible, choose low-salt, reduced-salt, or no-salt-added versions of a product.

Eat more potassium-rich foods, such as oranges, bananas, mangos, cantaloupe, dried peas and beans - you'll excrete more sodium in your urine than the average person. However, unless your physician prescribes them, don't take potassium supplements as too much potassium can cause nausea, vomiting, and even irregular heartbeat.

Herbs are the natural and delicious way to replace salt in your diet. For people with diabetes and other restricted diets who are wanting to reduce their reliance on salt to flavor food, herbs are the answer. Do be sure to note the date and name of the herb or herb blend in your containers as you should use them within six months for maximum flavor and benefit.

Salt-Substitute Blends:

  • Soup Blend:  Basil, parsley, marjoram, thyme, savory, and bay
  • Salad Blend:  Basil, parsley, marjoram, dill, and tarragon
  • Fish Blend:  Basil, dill, fennel, savory, rosemary
  • Poultry Blend:  Sage, thyme, parsley, rosemary, basil
  • Pasta Blend:  Basil, thyme, oregano, parsley

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