Once you understand why salt must be dramatically lowered in your diet, you may still be questioning how you will do it without eating bland food every day. Part of the answer is that you won’t be entirely eliminating sodium. To do that is impossible because all foods, especially vegetables, contain sodium, and this natural sodium adds to their flavor. Up until now, you have probably never noticed this natural sodium because when we over-stimulate the taste buds with too much added salt over a long period of time, our taste receptors can’t sense lower levels of salt. Thus, natural, unsalted foods seem to have less flavor. Food then tastes flat without added salt, and you need to add even more salt to almost everything. This is part of the addiction cycle: we build up tolerance for unhealthy substances. The good news, however, is that you can re-train your taste buds to be more sensitive to salt when you decrease its presence in your diet.
Most people consume between 2000 and 8000 milligrams of salt a day. When you get rid of the salt habit, your food may taste bland for a few weeks, but, within a few months, you will find that your taste buds, which were deadened by the overuse of salt, have gradually gained their sensitivity back. You will discover tastes that you never knew existed in natural foods. Even a simple pear or a leaf of lettuce will taste better. Foods that you once enjoyed will now taste too salty.
When we eat a diet low in salt, eventually, our sensitivity to salt and other tastes gets stronger and simple foods begin to have a better flavor. As you eventually get accustomed to a diet that stimulates your salt receptive taste buds less, you can enjoy more flavors in natural foods. This isn’t just limited to salt. You will also see the phenomenon at work when eating a simple strawberry or slice of red pepper. Amazingly, your taste buds become stronger when you are off salt and sugar. Try eating some plain romaine lettuce with no dressing on it now. Then eat some after reducing your salt intake for a month. You will be amazed at how much more flavor that plain, unseasoned piece of lettuce has. The bottom line is that once you break your addiction to salt, you likely won’t miss it at all, and you will find that food actually has more flavor not less.
This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.
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