Easy Ways to Cut Salt for Better Health

One of the best things to do for a healthy body is to reduce the amount of salt in one’s diet. For people who are sensitive to sodium, excess salt in the diet can lead to fluid retention, increased blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and congestive heart failure.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier stated that if Americans cut their salt intake by three grams a day, cases of heart disease, stroke and heart attack would drop significantly, as would deaths. The study authors estimated that change alone would result in annual health care savings between $10 billion and $24 billion.

It may take a bit of discipline to reduce salt intake, but less dietary salt could save lives.

Processed Foods Contain High Amounts of Salt Based on Small Servings Sizes

Cut down on processed foods and cut salt. According to the Mayo Clinic, approximately 77 percent of salt in the North American diet comes from processed foods. Foods like canned meat and soups, cold cuts, frozen dinners and pizzas are generally very high in salt. So are meats that have been marinated or injected with either broths or solutions that are brimming in salt.

To reduce salt intake, buy products that have no more than 140 mg of sodium per serving, which is the maximum allowed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be labeled “low sodium.” Check the serving size carefully. It’s easy to double the “recommended” serving size which is often much less than people think.

Restrict foods higher in salt content to one portion a day. Higher salt means 480 mg of sodium per portion.

When eating canned tuna or beans, rinse several times with water to wash off some of the salt.

Buy fresh vegetables when possible. If you are buying frozen or canned vegetables, it is suggested to look for products that have no added salt. Be careful about buying vegetables in sauce, as they are usually very high in sodium.

Use Less Salt in Cooking and Food Preparation But Keep the Flavor with Herbs and Spices

When cooking pasta, potatoes or vegetables, don’t salt the cooking water. People use less salt when they use it at the table than when they cook with it.

To add flavor to food, use herbs, spices or salt-free seasonings, such as garlic or onion powder. Read all seasoning labels to make sure they don’t contain added salt.

To bring salads and vegetables to life, don’t reach for the salt shaker. Use lemon or lime juice or an assortment of vinegars including balsamic, cider, wine or fruit vinegars.

Cut the salt but not the flavor. Use homemade spice blends for meats, poultry and fish. Some mixtures to try include:

citrus (grated lemon or orange peel, minced garlic and cracked pepper);
Italian (chopped, fresh, or dried oregano, basil, rosemary, Italian parsley and garlic); or
pepper-garlic (garlic powder, cracked black pepper, and cayenne pepper).
Experiment with amounts until they’re right. Or buy prepared mixtures, but make sure they don’t contain added salt.

Be Careful with Salt Substitutes, Condiments and Low-Salt Versions which Still Contain Salt

Don’t overdo commercial salt substitutes. Some of them still contain reduced amounts of salts. Overusing salt substitutes still results in getting too much salt. Also, many salt substitutes use potassium chloride which can be harmful for people suffering from kidney problems, congestive heart failure or high blood pressure.

When using condiments, read labels. Many standbys such as salad dressings, sauces, dips, ketchup, mustard, relish, barbeque sauce and soy sauce are swimming in salt. Even sodium reduced (low-salt) versions still have lots of salt. Use sparingly.

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