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From: Bryanna (
Subject:         Re: Salt/Sodium
Date: May 10, 2010 at 7:54 pm PST

In Reply to: Salt/Sodium posted by Sue on May 10, 2010 at 5:25 pm:

We should all moderate our sodium intake, but you
don't have to go crazy! Being a vegan helps,
because 75% of the sodium in the North American diet
comes from cheese and packaged foods! Carnivores
ingest sodium from the blood and tissues of animals
they eat. Dairy products contain natural sodium,
and quite a bit of salt is added to cheese.

According to Dr. Michael Klapper, vegans have a more
favorable potassium/sodium balance.

But now there are lots of vegan packaged foods, so
don't go crazy with those either!

As for canned beans, if you rinse canned beans and
heat them in clear water for a few minutes, the
sodium is reduced by about 1/3.

Many companies now sell low-sodium canned beans,
even in-store brands, so look for those.

What I do is cook my own beans from dry ones. I
always cook way more than I need and then freeze
them in 1 1/2 to 2 cups amounts in zipper-lock bags.
I usually cook them unsalted. Then I use them in my
own recipes and salt the recipe as needed.

Here is my salt essay from my book "Nonna's Italian


by Michele Anna Jordan in Fine Cooking Magazine,
march-2002-fcg020301.html )

Salt is a much-maligned but essential ingredient in
cooking. Salt, used in moderate quantities, enhances
and brings out flavors (even sweetness). It also
effects the way foods smell, and brightens colors.
If you sniff two identical glasses of wine, but salt
one, the one with salt will have a stronger aroma.

Salt is also an essential ingredient in breads,
strenghtening the gluten and regulating the growth
of the yeast. Saltless bread can taste flat, look
gray, and fall after rising.

Marcella Hazan refers to salt as a “magnet”, drawing
fragrance and flavor from food and she writes, “To
shrink from an adequate use of salt is to leave
unmined the deep-lying flavors of food.” (Marcella’s
Italian Kitchen, 1986.)

Food essayist Robert Farrar Capon calls salt “the
indispensable bass line over which all other tastes
and smells form their harmonies”.

Mimmetta Lo Monte, author of “La Bella Cucina”
(1983), writes:

”Food in Italy is well seasoned with salt, either
added in the kitchen while cooking, or sprinkled on
afterward and given time to sink in. Salt at the
table is used sparingly.

In the U.S. I have found that food gets to the table
undersalted....Sprinkling it from a shaker will keep
the taste of salt right on the surface; it will be
the first taste to greet you and will overpower the
other tastes of the dish.”

This is an excellent point—I can’t remember the
number of times I have been served undersalted
dishes and watched my fellow diners liberally
sprinkle salt over their plates after the first
taste, masking instead of enhancing the intended
flavor of the dish. How much better if the cook had
salted the dish properly in the first place!

It’s easy to learn how to salt properly—taste the
unsalted food first. Salt a little and taste again.
You should not taste salt, but the underlying
flavors in the dish should be enhanced and
harmonized. If you actually taste the salt, you have
overdone it (in soups and stews, cooking a potato in
the mixture will draw out some of the salt). Really
oversalting will cause you to gag.

What about the alleged harm to health of salt in the
diet? Well, now some experts are telling us that we
should eat more salt, especially if we are very
active and likely to get dehydrated. As usual,
moderation is the sensible answer—a bit too boring
for the sensation-seeking public, it seems.

Most of the sodium (some studies say as much as 75
percent) comes from sodium compounds added to
processed foods, and the natural and added salts of
dairy products (especially cheeses), NOT from
moderately-salted home-cooked foods.

Vegetarians eat less salt in the first place because
they don’t eat meat—carnivores ingest sodium from
the blood and tissues of the animals they eat (and
usually add salt on top). Dairy products also
contain natural sodium, and quite a bit of salt is
added to cheeses. And, according to Dr. Michael
Klaper, vegans have a more favorable potassium/sodim
balance, which is probably the main factor in the
low-to-normal blood pressure that most vegans enjoy.

Dr Andrew Weil, in his book “Natural Health, Natural
Medicine” ( 1990), writes: “How harmful is salt? It
is very harmful to some people and probably not
harmful to most of us...” He goes on to say that
restricting sodium may not result in much
improvement in conditions such as high blood

Other experts tell us that a low-fat, high-fiber
diet can lower blood pressure by as much as 10
percent, even without restricting salt intake.
Losing as little as 10 lbs. often helps, as does eat
more soy products and vitamin C.

If you follow a vegan diet, you’ll have no problem
doing away with the salt in processed foods and
cheese, you won’t be ingesting the natural sodium in
meats and dairy products, and you can use light
(low-salt) soy sauce and restrict your intake of
such salty foods as pretzels, chips, olives,
salted nuts and seeds. This should allow you to
moderately salt your homemade foods so that they are
enhanced in flavor, aroma, and color, and you can
remove the salt-shaker from your table and replace
it with a peppermill!

I use sea salt because it does not contain anti-
caking chemicals, and coarse salt for drying herbs.

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