Do you crave salty foods because, let's face it, most of them are delicious (we're looking at you, pizza)? Or is it because you're genetically hardwired to want them? Scientists from the University of Edinburgh found that removing a gene in mice (a gene that is linked to high blood pressure in humans) caused the mice to drink more saltwater and develop high blood pressure. When the mice stopped drinking saltwater, their blood pressure returned to normal. While the article did not say whether humans who crave salt are missing this gene, scientists are going to research a medication that may help heart failure patients control their salt intake.
Sodium, a component of salt, is essential for overall health, but taking in more than the recommended 2,300 milligrams per day (~1 teaspoon) may lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. It can be tough to avoid going over the recommended amount, but it's important to cut back on salty foods to stay healthy and in shape.
Wondering how to do it? Here are some tips:
- Watch for the sneaky sources of sodium such as canned beans, deli meats, and soy sauce.
- Revamp the flavor of your meals with a splash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar.
- Bypass packaged foods at the grocery store and stock your cart with fresh fruits and vegetables and raw proteins that you can spice up yourself.
- Limit processed foods such as bacon, sausage, and seitan to special occasions.
- Choose foods labeled "reduced sodium" or "low sodium."
- Cut down on takeout or your favorite meal delivery service and cook one more meal per week than you are currently—the more the better!