So, you’re convinced that you should reduce the salt you eat. Now, how should you go about it? Start by making it a habit to check nutrition 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 your taste buds will adjust.
Here are some ways you can cut back on salt:
- Similar foods can vary widely in sodium content. If using packaged, processed, or prepared foods, compare nutrition labels and choose the product with the least amount of sodium.
- Try to find fresh and frozen poultry that hasn't been injected with a salt 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.
- 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 and cheese, 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 that week’s sandwiches instead of using deli meats.
- If using ready-made condiments, choose carefully. Soy sauce, bottled salad dressings, dips, ketchup, salsas, mustard, pickles, olives and relish are often high in sodium. It’s easy to make your own salad dressing. Combine olive or canola oil with flavored vinegars or lemon or lime juice, and season with fresh or dried herbs, spices, or citrus zest.
- Control portion sizes – you’ll get fewer calories and less sodium.
- Cook at home more - use herbs, spices, citrus juices, and flavored vinegars instead of salt to add flavor to foods. Take-out, fast food and restaurant fare is loaded with salt and there’s not much 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 more than 900 milligrams of sodium.)
As you take steps to reduce sodium gradually, you’ll start to appreciate foods for their true flavor. Over time, your taste buds will adjust to less salt and the foods you used to like will taste too salty!
To learn more about sodium and health and find more tips to cut your sodium intake, visit heart.org/sodium.
Article copyright © 2015 American Heart Association. This recipe/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.
Last reviewed 1/2015