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SNAP-Ed Dietitian Allie Einarsson, right, supervises Kalyssa Williams and Kelvin Williams as they chop fruit and nuts for yogurt parfaits at the Nov. 16 South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s community nutrition class at the North Branch Library. The class focused on reducing the amount of salt in the diet.

NORTH -- The series of six South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control community nutrition classes are continuing at the North Branch Library, with the next classes scheduled for Dec. 21 and Jan. 25.

The Nov. 16 class, taught by state DHEC SNAP-Ed dietitian Allie Einarsson, focused on how the body uses salt. Einarsson showed vials of the amount of salt is actually needed by the body -- about ¼ to ½ teaspoon a day. She offered alternate methods of seasoning foods, such as using herbs like basil, oregano, chives, dill, mint, parsley, etc.

A handout describing the flavor sensation, form, description and uses for the various herbs and some spices (allspice, cinnamon, curry, ginger, etc.) was given to each participant.

Einarsson said the average adult should carefully check nutrition labels and consume less than 2,300 milligram of sodium per day, or just a little under 1 teaspoon. Many individuals, however, eat more than 3,000 mg of a salt daily, she said.

If an individual has diabetes, hypertension or chronic kidney disease, the amount of daily salt intake should be less than 1,500 mg, the dietitian noted. 

Einarsson demonstrated that some nutrition labels can be misleading. She showed a pot pie label that indicated the pie contained two servings. Most of the class participants thought a single pot pie was a single serving. The nutrition label on the product showed that if the entire pot pie were consumed as a single serving, the individual would have consumed their entire day’s allowance of sodium.

Einarsson noted that many people get most of their salt/sodium intake from processed foods such as cold cuts and cured meats, sandwiches/burgers, bread/rolls, pizza, soup and prepared poultry. She advised carefully reading labels and keeping track of sodium intake. The dietitian noted that it takes the average person about 30 days to get used to not overindulging in sodium.

She suggested purchasing foods labeled “salt free" or “sodium free" as a first choice as each serving contains less than 5 mg of sodium. Other alternatives are “very low sodium,” in which each serving contains less than 35 mg of sodium; “low sodium,” where each serving contains less than 140 mg of sodium or “reduced or less sodium,” where each serving contains at least 25 percent less sodium than a serving of the regular version. 

Einarsson encouraged class members to eat fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables as replacements. To demonstrate how delicious those alternatives can be, she supervised two participants, Kalyssa and Kelvin Williams, as they prepared a fresh yogurt parfait using freshly chopped pecans, walnuts, apples and pears in a bed of vanilla or plain yogurt and topped with either honey or cinnamon.

North Branch Library will host the next S.C. DHEC community nutrition class from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 21.

Additional information about the class can be obtained by calling the library at 803-247-5880.


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