As many Americans seek out nutritious food options, flavor still reigns supreme, and several major food brands are proving that consumers don’t have to sacrifice taste in order to eat better.
An array of health claims have been introduced to the public over the past few years, but a classic dietary recommendation — to lower sodium intake — is gaining interest. Today’s consumers are recognizing that this concrete step can help them live nutritious lifestyles, and are looking for satisfying choices from lower sodium juices to soups and crackers and even deli meats.
However, despite growing awareness of the benefits of a lower sodium diet, many people still associate less salt with less flavor and may be hesitant to try these new offerings.
“There’s a stigma that exists when it comes to trying lower sodium foods,” said Connie Diekman, R.D. and nutrition consultant. “What’s really important to understand is that sodium often mutes the real flavor of foods, so by reducing salt and replacing it with flavorful options you’re actually enhancing your experience and enjoyment of food overall.
“I like to tell my clients to think of lessening sodium intake as a positive rather than a negative.”
The recommended amount of sodium consumption per day is less than 2,300 milligrams, about one teaspoon of salt. But many health professionals conclude the average American consumes substantially more salt per day, as much as double the recommended amount.
However, making the change to a lower sodium diet can be easier than one may think, Diekman said.
“As long as most people who aren’t on a restricted diet choose lower sodium options and eat smaller portions they don’t have to cut specific foods out of their diets completely,” she said. “Being adventurous in selecting foods while adding fruits, vegetables and herbs to favorite recipes are great solutions for reducing sodium consumption without feeling deprived of a flavorful meal or snack.”
Diekman worked with Sara Lee Deli to create tasty, gourmet sandwiches that are available at www.thejoyofeating.com to show how easy and delicious it can be to maintain a nutrient-rich diet.
The recipes showcase the company’s new premium lower sodium sliced-to-order deli meats, with flavors including Oven Roasted Turkey Breast, Honey Ham, Oven Roasted Chicken Breast and Roast Beef. The meats feature premium, minimally processed whole muscle meat with no fillers.
These Sara Lee Lower Sodium deli meats have at least one-third less sodium than their counterpart non-reduced sodium meats according to USDA data.
Diekman also offers these tips to help people lower their sodium intake while still enjoying all the flavor foods have to offer:
Mix it up — If you’re making a sandwich, replace saltier spreads such as mustard by combining crushed rosemary into low-fat mayonnaise; this is a great option for lower sodium turkey and chicken deli meats.
Add some crunch — Adding sliced fruit or vegetables such as apples, pears, cucumbers or chopped peppers and pairing it with whole grain breads and lower sodium deli meats and spreads creates crunch and enhances the flavor to make a restaurant-style sandwich.
Start slowly — Making the transition to lower sodium doesn’t have to happen overnight. Slowly introducing lower sodium food options to your diet and letting your palate adjust will help make this a goal that’s much easier to keep.
For a hearty lunch or satisfying dinner, try these tasty recipes — then put your own spin on them for a sandwich that’s equal parts delicious and nutritious.
1-1/2 ounces Sara Lee Lower Sodium Oven Roasted Turkey Breast
1 slice Sara Lee Hearty & Delicious Home-Style Made with Whole Grain Buttermilk Bread
1-1/2 teaspoons fat free mayonnaise
1 teaspoon prepared pesto
1/2 slice Sara Lee Provolone Cheese
2 to 3 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
Fresh basil leaves
Mix mayonnaise and pesto in a small bowl until light green. Cut the bread in half and spread the pesto mayonnaise on one side of the bread. Add turkey, tomato, and basil leaves.
Crispy Crunchy Baguette With Turkey and Ham
1 ounce Sara Lee Lower Sodium Honey Ham
1 ounce Sara Lee Lower Sodium Oven Roasted Turkey Breast
1/2 slice Sara Lee Muenster Cheese
1 French baguette
1 teaspoon of honey mustard
1 small apple, sliced
3 tablespoons chopped green onions
Spread honey mustard on baguette. Then layer apple, green onion, ham, turkey and cheese.
Hearty Ham & Cheese
2 ounces Sara Lee Lower Sodium Honey Ham
1/2 slice Sara Lee Muenster Cheese
1/2 slice Sara Lee Swiss Cheese
2 slices Sara Lee 45 Calories and Delightful Wheat Bread
1 slice of red tomato
On bottom slice of bread, top with ham, cheese slices, tomato and lettuce. Top with second slice of bread.
With the many lower sodium products available, reducing sodium intake doesn’t have to feel like going on a strict diet. The key is shopping smart, being aware of sodium levels and remembering that delicious foods don’t have to be sacrificed in the process. Here are four ways to start lowering your sodium intake today.
• Add a variety of fruits and vegetables to a sandwich made with lower sodium deli meats as a great way to pile on the flavor and fill you up without the added salt and calories.
• Be conscious of sodium content when shopping for foods and comparing nutrition labels.
• Opt for homemade meals as opposed to canned or frozen offerings to significantly reduce the amount of sodium you consume.
• Expose children to lower sodium foods at a young age while their taste buds are still developing to help instill good long-term eating habits.
All materials courtesy of Sara Lee