If you’re like most people, you already get too much sodium in your diet, especially if you eat out in restaurants or buy a lot of packaged foods. Food manufacturers love salt because it’s inexpensive and gives food flavor. Once you start shaking the salt shaker and munching on foods that are high in sodium, foods that aren’t heavily salted taste bland. So you shake the salt shaker some more, adding to the problem of sodium overload.
Some people are more sensitive to sodium in the foods they eat than others. If you fall into this category, your blood pressure is more likely to rise when you eat high-sodium foods. People who are more salt sensitive include people who are middle-aged or older, women, African Americans, those with high blood pressure or a family history of high blood pressure, and people who have type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome.
If you fall into one of these “salt sensitive” categories, there’s a good reason to cut back on sodium in the foods you eat. According to a report issued by the National Institutes for Health, being salt sensitive increases the risk of death whether or not you have high blood pressure. If you’re salt sensitive, it’s also more likely you’ll develop hypertension as you get older. That’s why it’s even more important to cut back on salt if you fall into one of these high-risk categories.
How much sodium should get a day? No more than 2,400 milligrams, and if you’re salt sensitive, aim for 1,500 milligrams a day or less. That’s only three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt. Don’t think that hiding the salt shaker is enough. The majority of dietary sodium comes from processed foods and restaurant offerings.
Simple Ways to Reduce Sodium in Your Diet
Become a “sodium detective” when you shop. Don’t trust your taste buds to tell you whether a food is high in sodium. You’ll find high levels of sodium in foods you might not suspect like bread, cottage cheese, salad dressing, breakfast cereal, pasta, and poultry. Poultry isn’t naturally high in salt, but it’s often injected with salt water to make it more tender and add flavor. If you buy packaged foods, read the label carefully.
Buy fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned ones. Frozen vegetables usually have less salt than canned ones, but read labels carefully. Fresh vegetables are the best choice from a sodium standpoint as long as you don’t add extra salt when you prepare them.
Explore the world of sodium-free spices and seasonings or use fresh herbs to season your foods. Many herbs and spices like garlic, turmeric, and basil have health benefits and will add a unique flavor to the foods you prepare. Think outside the salt box.
Be a sodium-conscious consumer when you eat out. Restaurant and fast food is typically loaded with salt. Limit the number of times you eat out, and when you do, choose lower sodium items like salad, steamed vegetables, and roasted entrees. Ask the kitchen to go light on the salt when they prepare your meal. Use olive oil and vinegar on your salad to avoid sodium-rich salad dressings.
When you prepare food at home and need to add salt, there are lite salts available. These salts replace some of the sodium with potassium. They’re a healthier option but don’t overuse them.
Add more potassium-rich foods to your diet. Potassium helps to offset some of the unhealthy effects of sodium. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of potassium.
The Bottom Line?
It’s important to limit the amount of sodium in your diet, especially if you’re salt-sensitive. Hiding the salt shaker isn’t good enough. Use these five tips to lighten up on the sodium in your diet and reap the health benefits.
NIH News Release. “Study Shows New Link Between Salt Sensitivity and Risk of Death”
Related Articles By Cathe:
Sodium and Your Health: Is It Safe to Eat Salt Again?
Does a High-Sodium Diet Increase the Risk of Heart Disease?
Will Switching to Sea Salt Lower Your Sodium Intake?
Secret Salt: Foods That You Didn’t Know Were Laced With Sodium
Why High Sodium Diets Are Bad for Your Bones