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New Findings May Help Americans Avoid "The Forgotten Killer"

Researchers have found that replacing salt with naturally brewed soy sauce can reduce the salt content (and therefore sodium content) of certain foods without affecting taste.

The researchers, led by Stefanie Kremer from Wageningen Universities Centre for Innovative Consumer Studies in the United Kingdom, published the results of their study in the July 2009 issue of the Journal of Food Science.

For the study, researchers formulated salad dressing, soup, and stir-fried pork with increasing levels of soy sauce and decreasing levels of salt.

Participants then tested 5 samples of each food with differing salt-to-soy sauce ratios.

The researchers found that they could reduce the salt without affecting taste by 50% in salad dressing, 17% in soup and 29% in stir-fried pork.

Salt is a vital nutrient. However, according to the World Health Organization, you shouldn't consume more than 5 grams of salt daily. It is estimated that the average salt consumption in the Western world is approximately double that recommendation. Conservative estimates range between 10 and 12 grams daily.

Diets high in salt are a major cause of heart disease and stroke. The Center for Science in the Public Interest released a report in 2008 which highlighted the fact that high-salt diets cause an estimated 150,000 premature deaths each year in America.

Nonetheless, people are still consuming more and more salt, mostly due to the amount of salt in packaged foods.

The best way to avoid the serious health risks associated with consuming too much salt is by carefully reading the nutritional facts panels on food items. It is best to stay away from items that contain more than 180 milligrams of sodium.

Watching the amount of salt you add to your food is also helpful, however, your salt shaker is really only responsible for about 25% of the salt you consume daily.

Some common foods high in salt to watch out for include chili, TV dinners, pizza, hot dogs, and ham. Food manufacturers have been recognizing the need for healthy alternatives, and you can now find many of these items in a reduced or even salt/ sodium free form.

If you decide to substitute soy sauce for salt when cooking at home, be sure to choose a low sodium variety of soy sauce.

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