Don’t Make a Health Fumble On Football Day
With the big game just around the corner, make a healthy plan for how to snack right
The crunch, the pass, the tackle: it’s snack time during Super Bowl.
And whether you’re viewing the big game by yourself or with a roomful of friends on Feb. 3, it’s a sure bet that salty morsels are on the menu.
Let’s face it: “Super Bowl is not the day when you’re going to stick with the daily recommendations for sodium limits,” says Dr. Martha Gulati, director of preventative cardiology and women’s vascular health at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
And that may be an understatement.
Add up the chips, pretzels and dips on the typical game-day menu, and you’re probably consuming far more than the recommended limit of 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day for healthy younger adults. The cut-off is 1,500 milligrams for people 51 or older or for those with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, or those who are African American.
If you have immediate health concerns, you’ll want to find ways to limit your sodium intake. But even if sodium isn’t a worry, you can moderate your intake while still enjoying foods with delicious tastes and inviting textures.
Your best bet is to make snacks from scratch instead of relying on store-bought ones, so you know how much salt you’re using and can reduce the amount as needed.
That’s the argument from Cynthia Nims, author of “Salty Snacks.”
“When you cook at home you don’t have to work that hard to keep control of sodium intake,” says Nims, Seattle, Wash.
Although offering sodium-reduction tips may seem counterintuitive when talking about salty snacks, Nims’ suggestions can make the difference between flavor and sodium overload.
- Use salt as a finishing seasoning on top of the food where you can taste it. “This has a big impact sitting on top of something rather than being in the food. The impact is immediate. You get the crunch [of the salt] and you get the flavor on your tongue,” she says.
- Try flavored salts that mix the seasoning with herbs, spices or other flavors. You’ll get less sodium per teaspoon.
- Use highly flavored ingredients that don’t require additional salt.
- Skip the saltshaker when you’re making snacks with olives, anchovies, Parmesan cheese, salami and mustard.
However, even the author’s tips may not be enough if you need to reduce your sodium intake. In that case, cooking is even more important:
- Use fresh fruits and vegetables
- Vegetables frozen without salt
- Replace processed deli meat with meat or poultry you cook from scratch
“Flavor foods with herbs, spices and squeezes of lemon or lime juice,” Dr. Gulati says.
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