“I would salt corn, steak, chicken – even McDonald’s fries,” the Concordia creative writing student confessed. “It’s a wonder I could taste anything besides salt.”
With a family history of diabetes, high cholesterol, slow metabolism, and other heart problems, McMahon knew he had to take action against his bad habit.
“It took a few months, and I weaned off of it,” he said. “But when I decided that I wanted to [live to] see my grandchildren, I stopped.”
Now, his salt intake never exceeds the prescribed amount in his baking recipes, as the campaign to lower salt intakes around the world continues. New York assembly member Felix Ortiz proposed a bill stating “no owner or operator of a restaurant in this state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food” and would fine restaurants $1000 if they added salt to their dishes.
He argued that this would drastically reduce cardiovascular illnesses and restore some much needed vitality in Americans that processed, pre-packaged and frozen foods lack.
Now how does this proposed ban on salt apply to us Canadians? Unfortunately, it does not, but it might not be a bad idea if it did. According to Statistics Canada, Canadians ranging from ages 14-30 consume an average of 4000 mg of the danger dust per day. That’s over three times the recommended 1300 mg. Unless you are an Olympic athlete and need the electrolytes, your body does not require more than 2400 mg of sodium per day (the size of a teaspoon.)
Now the question is: would Montreal benefit from government-controlled salt use? Dr. Rima Rozen, a professor in the faculty of medicine at McGill, says that “we should ensure that we do not add too much salt to any of our foods, regardless if it’s at a restaurant or at home. The detrimental effects on health have been proven.”
Why is salt the devil of all additives? If consumed in excess, it causes bloating, leads to coronary illness, and may not be of great help before your finals, Rozen explains.
“There is one very large study which seems to suggest that high sodium intake is correlated with decreased cognition.”
It’s clear that our nation is not only being shaken by threats of a hurricane but the wrath of the salt shaker as well. What can offer some help? The solution may literally be right in your own backyard. A slew of heart-healthy, cancer-fighting tasty alternatives from your garden can jazz up your meals like a Broadway play.
In the meantime, grocery stores and restaurants are still providing the option to salt, but this does not suggest that we should turn a blind tongue to all the healthier, tastier options out there.
After checking out these five great salt alternatives, the decision is yours: To salt or not to salt?
It flavours your favourite candies, baked goods and gum, but did you know that cinnamon has tons of anti-inflammatory agents that protect against cancer, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis? A half-teaspoon sprinkle of this natural tree-bark derived spice over coffee and oatmeal provides you with many benefits. Its fibre, calcium, iron and manganese content are extremely high in proportion to its low calorie count (around two per serving.) Not to mention, cinnamon’s sweet undertones make you almost forget salt ever existed. You will become addicted once you learn to make pasta dishes with garlic and olive oil, replacing the salt for cinnamon for a more exotic flavour. Popcorn and cinnamon are also a friendly mix.
Face it: Beyonce looks great. Along with hitting the gym a couple thousand times a week, she also publicly owes her aesthetic success to cayenne pepper. Her famous cayenne pepper concoction mixed with water, lemon and maple syrup boosts metabolism by clearing out the digestive system. The capsaicin chemical in the spice gives it those cancer fighting properties. Courageously add these fire pellets to homemade hummus, stir-fry and marinades for added protection against ulcers, atherosclerosis, colon cancer, and nerve damage associated with diabetes.
It will leave you without a kiss on that first date, but damn, does it taste good. Consuming garlic daily has been linked to lower cholesterol and triglyceride (the fat in the bloodstream) levels. Garlic can owe its powerful anti-inflammation abilities to its sulphuric properties, the agent that reduces swelling in the body responsible for obesity and infections. Garlic can easily replace salt on any dish, as it is universally consumed. Â Mediterranean, Oriental and Indian cuisine are all notorious for their high sodium content, but swapping some salt for one to two cloves of garlic per dish is a great way to maximize your health benefits.
Cumin is definitely the most festive of flavours, and adds a Mexican/Indian punch to any dish. When paired with vinegar and lemony notes, this fibre bomb packs a huge punch of iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Each of these minerals contribute to the repair of red blood cells and regulation of the heart so sprinkle this powdery brown spice liberally on salads, tacos and grilled veggies. This spice was a major component of traditional medicine that was used to treat digestive problems and the common cold.
Next time you are at Subway, ask for a shake of only black pepper instead of the pepper mixed with salt. Why? Along with being able to garnish virtually any dish, pepper’s benefits are numerous. Piperine, the amine alkaloid found in pepper that gives it that pungent spice, helps absorb your food’s minerals better, such as selenium and beta carotene. Anti-oxidants aren’t just reserved for citrus and green tea, either. Black pepper is a potent source of vitamins A and C which help remove toxins in the body that cause cancer and other diseases.
If you’re anything like Colin McMahon, and fueled by the desire to have a healthy body and live a longer, happier life, then these tips are for you.
“Unfortunately, I am not the best when it comes to discipline and have relapses, namely pizza, when I’m home in the states for the summer,” he admitted.
But occasional slip-ups make us human, right? When it comes to cravings, obey them in moderation, and go with the flow of the waves. Just make sure not to drink them. Do you know how salty the ocean is?