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How can I cut down my consumption of salt?

Melissa Stinson, NP
Nephrology
Sodium is added to many foods that are common in the American diet, so it can be difficult to avoid these super-sized portions of salt. Here are a few tips to help cut down on your consumption:
  • Eat fresh fruits, vegetables and meats. They are typically low in sodium and healthier for your heart as well.
  • Read food labels. Doctors recommend cutting sodium intake to 2,000 milligrams (mg) per day, so check how much sodium is in one serving. A good rule is to avoid items containing more than 20% of the recommended daily value.  
  • Avoid adding salt to your food. If you want more flavor, add herbs and spices instead.
  • Rinse canned items with water. If you do use canned vegetables or beans, rinsing with water can remove excess salt.
  • Be mindful when eating at restaurants. If nutritional information is available, choose meals that are low in sodium. Ask the server if the dish you've selected can be made with less sodium. 
Rose Reisman
Nutrition & Dietetics
Diet supermarket foods seem healthier for us, but the manufacturers will never trade off flavor, so to compensate, excess salt is added, which can increase blood pressure leading to heart and stroke disease.
 
Our daily recommended amount is 1,500 milligrams or 3/4 teaspoon. If you eat processed foods, you’re consuming at least double that amount from foods such as:
  • Fast-food chicken salads -- the chicken can be cooked in a high-sodium marinade and often injected with a sodium solution to keep the meat moist; a burger and side salad is better.
  • Boxed grains with flavor packages such as rice or couscous; make your own and season.
  • Fat-free cottage cheese uses excess salt to obtain the curds and whey consistency; substitute lower-fat ricotta cheese.
  • If purchasing frozen diet meals, read the sodium amounts and only purchase those below 400 milligrams per serving.
Minimizing diet foods that are packaged, frozen, and processed will cut that sodium to acceptable amounts.
Here are some ways to reduce salt in your diet:
  • Experiment with different fresh and dried herbs to see what tastes you like.
  • Replace salt with pepper, lemon and lime.
  • Cut back on processed and packaged foods, which can contain substantial amounts of sodium.
  • Read package labels to learn the sodium content.
  • If buying canned vegetables, look for those with no-salt added.
Once you've cut down on sodium, you'll be surprised at how quickly your taste adjusts to the change.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.