DEAR DR. GOTT: All levels of the medical profession have asked or told us to cut back on the salt we consume daily. I’m not on any salt-free diet for a health problem, but I’m finding a lot of salt in the deli products I purchase.
I’m widowed, live alone and am elderly. Many days, I don’t have the energy to prepare meals for myself from scratch or the ingredients are not in the house. So I buy something already made.
Is this becoming a universal problem that people preparing deli food are ignoring? With salt in everything, are we raising a generation of young children doomed for high blood pressure in the future? Most all adults already have it and are on daily medication to control it. Salt can always be added but can’t be taken away if already cooked in food.
DEAR READER: Salt is a preservative and makes food taste good. That’s why it is added to so many products, primarily those purchased at a delicatessen. Prepared foods, canned vegetables and soups often have extremely high sodium contents. To add to that, many containers hold two or more servings.
Read labels when you grocery shop and explore different parts of your local store.
Avoid the deli counter. Instead, purchase fresh fish or lean cuts of beef you can cut into portions and freeze for future use once you get home. Check the frozen-vegetable section and select your favorites by the bag. In that way, you can take the proper amount out for a meal and seal the bag shut until another day. Steam those vegetables while your meat is broiling.
Look for notations of low sodium on packaging. They do exist, but you have to become a savvy shopper. Consider low-salt, low-fat frozen dinner brands. Then, when you are at home without proper ingredients and are too tired to prepare a meal, you can reach for a healthful package from the freezer.
Take one weekend a month when you have spare time to make up a few casseroles or soups to tuck into your freezer. Invite a friend over to help you and perhaps stay for a meal.
Read ingredient labels on fast foods. If you don’t like what you read, put the product back on the shelf. Pass up deli products and buy a piece of fresh chicken to broil.
Remove the salt shaker from your table and cooking area. Experiment with other spices, such as Mrs. Dash, for a taste treat.
If you really feel you cannot deal with preparing your own foods, ask your physician for a referral to Meals on Wheels. You can have nourishing food delivered directly to your home on a regular basis. Dietary restrictions are respected, and you can request low- to no-sodium dishes. If you don’t have access to such an organization, check with your local senior center to see what is available. You’re not in this alone. Many others share your concerns, and you owe it to yourself to eat well.
Because you mentioned children doomed for high blood pressure, I am sending you a copy of my Health Report “Hypertension.” Other readers who would like a copy should send a self-addressed, stamped, No. 10 envelope and $2 to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wickliffe, OH 44092. Be sure to mention the title.
Doctor Gott is a retired physician and the author of the book “Dr. Gott’s No Flour, No Sugar Diet,” available at most chain and independent bookstores, and the recently published “Dr. Gott’s No Flour, No Sugar Cookbook.”