Small changes, less salt

No doubt there were countless braais on the go all across the country in celebration of Heritage Day. Hand in hand with that, braai grids were on special, bundles of wood were piled high in shopping centres and packets of chips were neatly arranged all along the isle ends and at the checkout counters.

Chips are pretty much a staple at a braai, and I reckon it’s for one of 3 reasons: 1) everyone who was asked to bring a starter-type snack was too lazy to do anything more than grab some chips and a dip, 2) you know the braai will only start four hours after your arrival and you’ll need something to fill up on, or 3) if there are awkward silences, at least you can say something like “so how do they actually get the smoked ribs flavour on here?”

Don’t get me wrong, I love chips just as much as every other person, but only as a treat every now and then. The problem with filling yourself with chips while you wait for the fillet to get cooked, or munching on them every day as your afternoon snack, is that your salt intake will be going through the roof! Chips aren’t the only culprit: salted nuts, flavoured crackers or nibbles, salted pretzels, salted buttered popcorn, processed or ready-made foods and sausages all have high salt content.

A high salt intake is linked to high blood pressure, which in turn is linked to heart problems and stroke. So limiting your salt intake is a good idea. Here’s how:

  • Add less salt when cooking – rely on herbs and spices for flavour. Rosemary, thyme and curry powders give a salty flavour
  • Make your own herb salt: add fresh herbs of your choice to some salt crystals and work it into a finer grind with a mortar and pestle. Place in a salt shaker or in a pinch bowl
  • Remember that stock cubes usually have a lot of salt, so limit the amount you use, or look for reduced-salt versions
  • Buy no-salt or reduced-salt foods. There’s a Black Cat peanut butter that has no salt or sugar added – may not seem like a big thing, but if your children are eating this every day it’s definitely worth making the swop
  • If you buy tinned goods that are stored in brine, rinse them thoroughly before eating
  • Cut down your intake of bacon, hams, sausages and smoked meats, and rather opt for leaner, low-salt proteins
  • Taste your food before you add salt at the table

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