So, you’re convinced that you should reduce your salt intake. Now, how should you go about it?Start by making it a habit to check labels on foods you buy regularly. Also, limit the amount of salt you add to food yourself. Don’t try to go cold turkey. Just gradually use less salt every day. After a few weeks time your taste buds will adjust.
Here are some ways you can cut back on salt:
- If using packaged, processed, or prepared foods, compare food labels and choose the product with the least amount of sodium. Fresh meat is lower in sodium than cold cuts, bacon, sausage, ham and hot dogs. Make a sandwich with whole-grain bread and half of your usual amount of cold cuts, then load it up with lettuce, tomatoes, fresh spinach leaves or slices of bell pepper. If you’re having chicken breasts for dinner, make extra and slice them up for sandwiches tomorrow instead of using deli meats.
- Try to find fresh and frozen poultry that hasn't been injected with a sodium solution. Check the fine print on the packaging and look for terms such as “broth”, “saline”, or “sodium solution.” Sodium levels in unseasoned fresh meats should be around 100 mg or less per 4-ounce serving.
- If using ready-made condiments, choose very carefully. Soy sauce, bottled salad dressings, dips, ketchup, salsas, mustard, pickles, olives and relish are often sky-high in sodium. Look for “low-sodium” varieties. It’s easy to make your own salad dressing! Instead of salt, use fresh or dried herbs, spices, citrus zest, and 100% fruit juices to add excitement to your recipes.
- Read the nutrition and ingredient labels. Look for these words on food labels: “salt”, “soda” and “sodium.”
- Control portion sizes.
- Cook at home more - use herbs, spices, citrus juices, and vinegars instead of salt to add flavor to foods. Take-out, fast food and restaurant fare is loaded with salt and there’s nothing you can do about it, other than throwing away the soy sauce packets that come with packaged sushi and take-out Chinese food. (FYI, one tablespoon of soy sauce has 1,000 milligrams of sodium.)
Article copyright © 2011 American Heart Association. This article is brought to you by the American Heart Association’s Simple Cooking with Heart Program. For more articles and simple, quick and affordable recipes, visit heart.org/simplecooking.