A healthy adult should consume around 1,500 – 2,300 mg of sodium per day, but the average American over the age of two consumes as much as 3,400 mg every day.
Most of us can afford to cut back on sodium, but it’s especially important if your doctor has suggested a low-sodium diet to manage health issues. Try these simple tricks to cut that extra salt from your diet.
Choose fresh fruits and veggies
Canned fruits or vegetables are usually packed with sodium. Spare yourself the extra salt by choosing fresh produce as often as possible. If you have to use the canned variety, choose a low-sodium option and rinse before using to remove excess salt.
Avoid processed or instant foods
Like canned fruits and veggies, canned soups and other processed items contain much more salt than they would when prepared fresh. The same goes with frozen meals, packaged pasta dishes and similar foods.
Cook from scratch
Whenever possible, cooking for yourself from scratch is the best way to control the amount of sodium in your meal. For instance, pasta sauce from a jar will usually contain far more sodium than any you would make yourself.
Adjust your recipes
Even if a favorite recipe calls for a certain amount of salt, try waiting until the meal is almost done, then add salt to taste. You’ll often end up using less salt than the recipe requires. Also look for low-sodium recipes for your favorite dishes.
Try new herbs and spices
Salt isn’t the only way to add seasoning to a meal. Try new herbs – especially fresh herbs – and spices to add flavor to your meals without adding sodium.
Watch what you drink
Soda and other flavored drinks can contain around 12 to 50 milligrams of sodium. That may not sound like much, but if you drink soda every day or in large quantities, it adds up.
When grocery shopping, don’t blindly throw items into your cart. Healthy-looking options are sometimes secretly packing lots of sodium—especially low-fat foods, which often use extra salt to compensate for the excluded fats.
Eat smart at restaurants
You can’t read a nutrition label at a restaurant, but steer clear of common foods, like French fries, that are typically high in sodium. Ask to substitute a salad in place of salty sides, and if you eat out often, request that dishes be prepared with less salt if possible.