The average American diet consists of approximately 3,400 mg of sodium, which is more than 1,000 mg over the high end of the Food and Drug Administration’s suggested amount (1,500 - 2,300 mg daily). Too much salt can mean increased blood pressure, which is a major contributor to heart disease. Sarah Mohrman, RDN, CD, MA, dietitian/coordinator wellness and marketing, PPG – Cardiology, is here to provide some practical tips for shaking your salt habit.
6 ways to start reducing your sodium intake
- Put away the salt shaker. Just taking this household staple out of the kitchen or off of the table can decrease your sodium intake by 20 percent.
- At the grocery store, choose fresh foods, especially fruits, vegetables and meat products that have no added sodium.
- READ ALL FOOD LABELS! This is the key. If the product has a food label, it most likely has several different varieties with varying amounts of sodium. Compare brands and different varieties to find the lowest sodium option. Note: Just because a food label says “reduced sodium” does not mean this is the lowest sodium variety. It simply indicates it is lower in sodium than the original version.
- When purchasing canned foods, find varieties with no added salt, rinse regular canned foods under running water, skip the cans with added sauces, and use herbs, spices and other salt-free seasonings to add flavor without salt.
- Shop the perimeter of the store and limit your trips down the aisles. The aisles are full of processed foods that are loaded with sodium.
- Plan and eat most of your meals at home. Restaurant food and fast food are full of sodium and make it nearly impossible to control your daily sodium intake and keep it to the recommended amounts.
It’s also important to familiarize yourself with the common sources of salt in your diet. Family staples like sandwiches can seem harmless, but if they aren’t made with smart ingredients, they could be setting you up for sodium overload.
Top 5 sources of sodium
1. Breads and rolls
2. Cold cuts/cured meats
For each of these foods, you can find products that are lower in sodium than others just by comparing the food labels.
Another great tip is to create your own seasoning blends. For example, instead of using a taco seasoning packet loaded with sodium, make a simple homemade version to have on hand.
Homemade Taco Seasoning
1-part chili powder
1-part garlic powder
1-part onion powder
¼- ½-part crushed red pepper
Store in airtight container. Can store in freezer to keep fresh.
Starting to feel inspired? Try these flavorful options as well.
Stock up your spice cabinet and start mixing things up! (Just don’t invite salt to the party.)