The average person gets too much salt, which can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. Cutting back isn’t as easy as forgoing the salt shaker at mealtimes. Salt hides in many foods that you wouldn’t expect, and you could be getting way more than you thought.
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However, most medical experts will tell you that scaling back is a vital lifestyle choice that you can make for your overall health. Using some tried and true methods from the medical community can help you make changes that will have a positive impact on your heart and body.
Start Reading Labels
Because salt is hidden in many foods, it makes sense to get into the habit of reading the nutrition facts panel on any food you purchase. Seeing how much sodium is in certain foods can be eye-opening.
For example, many types of canned soup contain enough sodium for an entire day. Frozen dinners are another common culprit. By eliminating these foods from your diet, you can easily slash your salt intake. If they are favorites, look for lower sodium versions or those with no added salt.
Limit How Often You Eat In Restaurants
Restaurants use salt as a way to enhance the flavor of their menu offerings. You might not taste it, but a lot of restaurant meals are incredibly high in sodium. By making more meals at home, you can control how much salt is used at mealtimes.
When you do decide to indulge at a restaurant, make sure your choices for the rest of the day are low in sodium so you can balance your meal at the restaurant.
Cook With Herbs And Spices
When you substitute salt for other flavorful items, you can cut back on the sodium without having to eat bland, boring meals. Experiment with herbs and spices to create combinations that you love.
Both herbs and spices work well on meats, fish and vegetables, giving you lots of options when you prepare meals. Try dill on chicken, garlic with broccoli or cumin on a grilled steak. As you develop new taste combinations, you can cut the salt without even noticing.
Rinse Canned Foods
Canned foods, such as beans and vegetables, often have salt added. Before preparing and eating them, place the item in a colander and give it a quick rinse. This helps remove a good majority of the salt.
You can also look for canned goods that have no salt added. Check the ingredients list and nutrition information to make sure there isn’t any. Vegetables and beans have very little, if any, sodium naturally so you should see a very small number or a “0.”
Eat More Fresh Foods
Processed and packaged foods are notorious for being high in sodium. Opting for more whole, fresh foods eliminates this issue. Make sure that the majority of meal plans consist of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy foods and whole grains that are as close to their natural state as possible.
This helps reduce your sodium intake without a lot of effort.
Leave The Salt Shaker Off The Table
Of course, the most powerful thing you can do is to stop sprinkling so much salt on your food at mealtimes. This can be very hard, especially if you’re used to the salty taste and have come to prefer it.
Start small by slowly paring back on how much salt you put on your food. This helps you adjust without having to go cold turkey. As you slowly reduce how much salt you get, you’ll begin to enjoy eating your food with less sodium and will begin to turn down foods that have too much because you’ll notice the taste right away.
According to the Mayo Clinic, your body needs a small amount of sodium to function properly. For that reason, don’t attempt to entirely eliminate it from your diet. That would be virtually impossible and unnecessary.
Instead, focus on getting your intake down to about 1,500 milligrams per day and no more than 2,300 milligrams on a daily basis. By doing this you can dramatically reduce your risk of heart problems and kidney issues.
For some people, measuring their salt intake and keeping careful track of how much they get is a good way to keep tabs on things. If you have certain health issues, such as diabetes or heart disease, you may need even less sodium than the average person. In that case, talk to your doctor about an appropriate amount for you.