The amount of sodium added to most pasta sauces in the supermarket is frightening.
People don't realise how damaging salt can be to our health. That's largely because the processed food industry has invested heavily in making sure you don't get the message. I wrote about this HERE.
Did you know that 80% of our daily salt intake is from processed foods? And that almost every Australian is consuming sodium in amounts that are known to cause harm? No? You can thank the food industry for that! You see, processed foods are designed to be profitable for the companies that manufacture them and for the supermarkets that sell them. So they generally use cheap, nutrient-bereft ingredients that no one would want to eat. But salt makes these manufactured foods palatable. So they pile in the salt, knowing that without it you probably wouldn't buy their products.
And here's the stinger.... Because these high-salt processed foods are everywhere, our palates become habituated to high-salt foods. So delicious nutritious foods like veggies, legumes and whole grains taste bland by comparison. So we prefer our salty foods.
Those pesky profit-hungry food companies put high levels of salt into so many foods - breads, crackers, pasta sauces, condiments. So it can make a hige difference to your health if you check all the labels at the supermarket. Next time you go shopping, try out the FoodSwitch App created by Bupa Australia and The George Institute for Global Health. It's specifically designed for Australia and enables you to make healthier choices at the supermarket. And check out this handy guide from the Unpack the Salt Initiative.
Why would we bother to do this? Because excess salt - more than around one and a quarter teaspoons a day - is linked with hypertension, stroke, heart attack and impaired kidney function. And hypertension is at epidemic levels. It's the number one risk for stroke and heart attack - and the truly scary part is that it's a silent disease. So for many people, the first time they will become aware that their blood pressure has been dangerously high is when their doctor raises the alarm - or when they suffer a stroke or heart attack.
And if the food industry won't do the right thing and reduce the amount of salt in the foods they manufacture and profit handsomely from, then I'm just going to give my clients and readers as many easy alternatives as possible!
This recipe for pasta sauce is a great one. Once you try this you will never buy processed, ready-made pasta sauce again!
Tomato passata - make sure you choose a low-salt brand
1 onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 handful of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
Splash of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste*
In a saucepan, saute onion and garlic in a little olive oil over a medium heat for a few minutes until it becomes translucent.
Add tomato passata and basil leaves and allow to simmer while you prepare the rest of this dish.
Don't add your salt and pepper until the end as the sauce will reduce and the flavours will intensify!
* When you make an effort to reduce the salt in your diet, your palate will adjust over time.