Before you decided to cut back on your salt intake, it’s important to know what your optimal sodium intake should be. According to the American Heart Association, an ideal limit of sodium should be no more than 2,300 mg per day for most healthy adults. For people with high blood pressure, the recommended limit is 1,500 mg a day.
1 teaspoon of salt contains 2,300 mg of sodium. Keep this in mind as you plan your daily meals, and make sure that you're not eating too much sodium by unnecessarily adding salt to your foods.
2. Shop for low-sodium foods
Be smart when you are shopping. Sodium is present in almost all the processed and prepared foods we buy. So, look for low-sodium foods instead of items that are high in sodium.
The foods you should avoid on a low-sodium diet include:
* Sauces, dressings, and condiments.
* Instant foods such as flavored rice or noodles.
* Deli meat, fish, or poultry – like bacon, cold cuts, ham, frankfurters, sausage, and sardines.
* Canned beans with added salt.
* Frozen meals with bread in them, like burritos and pizza.
Some great foods that are low in sodium include:
* Any fresh fruits or vegetables like apples, oranges, or bananas, and spinach, carrots, or broccoli.
* Cereals, bread, and other grains like brown or wild rice, buckwheat, or quinoa.
* Instead of processed foods, choose foods high in protein like fresh or frozen fish or shellfish, chicken or turkey breast without skin or marinade, dried beans and peas, or eggs.
* Select unsalted or low-sodium fat-free broths, bouillons, or soups.
An important thing to keep in mind while grocery shopping is to compare nutrition labels on food packaging and checking the amount of sodium in foods. Read labels carefully and opt for low-sodium products. Watch out for the words “soda,” “sodium,” and the symbol “Na” on food labels. These labels indicate that a product contains sodium compounds. Look for foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added."
3. Add more potassium to your diet
Add more potassium to your diet. Eating foods with potassium is known to help lower blood pressure. The American Heart Association says that “the more potassium you eat, the more sodium you lose through urine.” They also point out that potassium helps ease tension in your blood vessel walls, which helps lower the blood pressure even further.
Some good sources of potassium are potatoes, cantaloupes, bananas, beans, milk, and yogurt. Apricots, avocados, fat-free yogurt, mushrooms, peas, and oranges are other examples of potassium-rich foods. The recommended potassium intake for a healthy adult is 3,500–4,700 mg daily.
Bear in mind, though, that patients with kidney disorders should first consult their doctor before adding potassium-rich foods to their diet. When someone is suffering from kidney disease, their kidneys cannot properly remove extra potassium, and too much potassium can then stay in the blood, which can be dangerous.
4. Keep an eye on salt content when eating out
When we are eating out, we don’t normally keep an eye on the salt content in the foods we are served, but we definitely should because restaurant food is often high in sodium. Here are a few helpful tips:
* Before you order your meal, ask if there are any low-sodium dishes on the menu.
* While ordering food, be very specific about the way you want it to be prepared and let the server know that you don’t want any extra salt added to your meal.
* Don’t use the salt shaker. Resist the temptation, even if you feel that the food is low in salt.
* Instead of salt, add fresh lemon juice. It’s a much healthier alternative anyway.
5. Cook with less salt
This is perhaps an obvious tip, but not necessarily the easiest one to follow. Many of us are used to adding generous amounts of salt when we cook, but you must learn to resist that urge. First of all, take the salt shaker off your table and start using healthy salt alternatives.
* Try black pepper on pasta, scrambled eggs, or pizza.
* Fresh herbs and spices like ginger or garlic are also a great option for adding to vegetables and meat.
* Choose some delicious salt-free seasoning alternatives like dry mustard, lemon juice, cumin, green pepper, or bay leaf.
* If you depend a lot on canned foods, make sure you rinse them well before eating or cooking. That should wash away some of the salt.
If you have kidney disease, consult with your doctor about the ideal salt substitute for you.
Remember that if you are used to having a lot of salt in your foods, it will take time for your taste buds to adjust to a low-sodium diet. But don’t give up. Once you have adjusted to this diet, you will realize how healthy it is to be consuming less salt every day, and you won't be tempted to go back to sodium-rich foods ever again.
Share this information with your loved ones!