Holiday baking tip 2: Ditch the excess sodium

Published on December 06 2011 - 2:00 PM
Holiday baking tip 2: Ditch the excess sodium

Call me crazy, but when I think of the nutritional impact of sugar cookies, I think of sugar. Weird, right? I’m sure most people think of health concerns like added sugars and fats when eyeing a plate of snickerdoodles or tea cakes (or, you know, after you’ve polished off two or three). But for a great many people dealing with high blood pressure or heart disease, tasty baked treats carry another health concern: too much salt.

Sodium is one of America’s great addictions. On average we eat 3,400 milligrams of sodium in a day, which is about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. If we—as a population—slashed sodium by about 1,000 mg (1/2 teaspoon) out of our daily diets, we’d lower our risk of heart disease by up to 9 percent, according to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Wouldn’t it be great, then, to bake cookies that keep people’s heart health in mind this holiday season? It’s easier than you think! Aim for no more than 1/2 teaspoon salt per batch of cookies. If you’re on a salt-restricted diet, try reducing the salt in your favorite cookies to 1/4 teaspoon. Want some inspiration? Here are some cookie recipes that have 1/4 teaspoon of added salt or less:


Holiday Cookie Swap

Want to lighten up your favorite Christmas cookie recipes? We’re kicking off the holiday baking season the first week in December by sharing prize-winning cookie recipes and tricks from our EatingWell Test Kitchen pros to make any cookie healthier but still taste great. Find everything you need for beautiful, healthy cookies here.

Matthew Thompson is a former associate food editor for EatingWell Magazine.