National Salt Awareness Week

Written by: Helen

This week is National Salt Awareness Week.  It’s a really good time to do exactly what the title suggests and become aware of how much salt is in your diet.  It is easy to eat too much salt without realising it, but it is also easy to cut back on salt once we become aware of where we are eating it.

Salt is actually necessary in our diets.  Our bodies need a little salt to survive.  The key word here is ‘little’.  Most adults are eating far too much and may not even realise it.  Regularly eating too much salt increases our risk of developing high blood pressure.  High blood pressure can cause strokes and heart attacks.

 

HOW MUCH SALT SHOULD WE EAT?

The recommended daily limit for salt for an adult is no more than 6g a day (about a teaspoon).

Children and babies should eat less.  Salt should never be added to babies foods and you should never use stock cubes or gravy for babies as they are often high in salt, and babies kidneys can’t actually cope with the amount of salt in them.

 

HOW TO CUT DOWN ON SALT

The problem can be that most people don’t realise they are eating too much salt.  This is because salt is hiding in many everyday foods.  About 75% of salt in our diet comes from processed foods.  Salt can be found in sauces and soups and ready meals, but also in everyday foods such as breads and cereals.

Start reading food labels.  Salt is also called sodium chloride.  If a food label gives a figure for sodium there is a simple way to work out the salt- simply x sodium figure by 2.5 to get the salt figure (2.4g of sodium is equal to 6g of salt).

 

Colour coded packages make it much easier to see how much salt is in a product.  High salt is highlighted in red and means it contains more than 1.5g of salt per 100g.  Products which highlight the salt in green should be low in salt and contain 0.3g or less of salt per 100g.

 

An obvious way to cut back on salt is to avoid adding it during cooking or at the table.  This is something I did once Nathan was old enough to eat the same food as we did.  I never add salt during cooking and it’s now very rare that I add it at the table.  It’s all about forming new habits.  Don’t automatically add salt, taste the food first and be sure you actually need it.  It doesn’t take long for our tastebuds to adjust.

 

Flavour in food doesn’t have to come from salt. Fresh and dried herbs and spices and black pepper can add flavour to food instead of salt.

This nhs article has a list of foods that can be high in salt http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/salt.aspx

And if you’re looking for some low salt recipes try this link to BBC Good Food http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/low-salt

Here are a couple that I’m going to give a whirl:

Real Tomato Soup

Real tomato soup

 

Parmesan Spring Chicken

Parmesan spring chicken

 

Here is a link to more information about Salt Awareness Week.  Do you need to cut back on salt?  Let me know your thoughts.

DANDELION LEAF TEA

Written by: Helen

dandelion leaf tea

This week I finally got round to making something that I have been wanting to make for a while.  There are numerous reported benefits for dandelion tea.  You can, of course, buy it from certain shops or you can step out into your back garden and make it yourself.  You will be making a healthy drink whilst clearing your lawn at the same time.  How often do you get to say that?

 

Health Benefits of Dandelion Tea

I made tea with the dandelion leaf, although I plan to make a drink with the flower soon too.  If you want to read the different health benefits of herbal teas then read my article here.  Dandelion is used to treat different ailments and to promote certain health benefits.  One of the main problems that I hear dandelion being used for is treating stomach upsets.  It is also said to have liver cleansing properties, it helps with the removal of toxins and, since it’s a diuretic, it increases urine production so can help detoxifying your kidneys.  I have read of many more benefits attributed to dandelion.  However, although there is plenty of anecdotal evidence there isn’t enough scientific research into its health benefits.

 

Dandelion Tea

 

How to Make the Tea

 It’s super easy to make.  I saw a YouTube video of someone making it with fresh leaves but I dried them out first so that I can use them to make a few cups.

  • Pick your leaves.  Choose leaves that look young and green and generally in good shape.  Don’t pick ones that are wilting or starting to look brown.  Don’t pick any that may have been sprayed with pesticides.
  • Give your leaves a thorough wash. 
  • Dry the leaves out.  I laid them out on a tray to dry.  Another method I’ve heard is putting them in a plastic bag with a few holes in.

dandelion leaves

  • Once dry transfer them to a sealed glass jar for storage.
  • Use about 1tsp for one cup.  Add boiling water and let stew for around 5 minutes.
  • Then strain and drink.  I added a teaspoon of honey.  Enjoy!

Have you ever made dandelion tea?  If so what did you think?  If not do you think you’ll give it a try?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  If you want to get posts like this to your inbox just pop your email address into the subscriptioon box.  Thanks for reading 🙂

 

How to Get your Vitamin C & Why you Need It

Written by: Helen

VITAMIN C

If you want to read my previous vitamin posts, you can find vitamin A here and vitamin B here.  I think that vitamin C is probably the most well known of the vitamins.  As a child I was told that I should eat enough vitamin C so I didn’t catch a cold.  I, like many, used to automatically think of oranges when I thought about vitamin C.  There are, in fact, many foods that can provide it.

 

Why Do I Need It?

Vitamin C has many functions and health benefits.  Here are a few:

  1. It’s an antioxidant so helps to prevent free radical damage.
  2. It speeds up cell renewal, which helps wounds to heal.
  3. It aids iron absorption.
  4. It is required for our bone and teeth health
  5. Needed for collagen production so helps to fight wrinkles

 

What Foods Contain It?

Some of the foods that provide vitamin C include:

  •  Pineapple.
  • Bell peppers.
  • Broccoli.
  • Brussels sprouts.
  • Strawberries.
  • Oranges.
  • Kiwi fruit.
  • Cauliflower.
  • Cabbage.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Grapefruit.
  • Spinach.
  • Asparagus.

 

Vitamin C Deficiency

To ensure you get all your required vitamins and minerals it is best to eat a varied diet.  Some symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include joint pain, being more susceptible to infections (weakened immunity), skin rashes.  A condition, which was prevalent on old sailing ships , is scurvy.  The symptoms for scurvy include bleeding gums and teeth loss.

Smokers are at a higher risk of vitamin C deficiency.

 

Vitamin C Rich Recipes

Just click on the headings to be taken to the links.

 

Pomodoro Pasta with White Beans & Olives

Pomodoro Pasta with White Beans & Olives

 

Roasted Baby Bok Choy

Roasted Baby Bok Choy

 

Creamy Garlic Pasta with Shrimp & Vegetables

Creamy Garlic Pasta with Shrimp & Vegetables

 

Beef Pops with Pineapple & Parsley Sauce

Beef Pops with Pineapple and Parsley Sauce

 

Roasted Halibut with Grapefruit Fennel Salsa

Roasted Halibut with Grapefruit Fennel Salsa

 Thanks for reading 🙂