Some Simple Ways to Cut Back on Salt

While a safe level of sodium intake is 1.1 to 3.3 grams per day, most Americans consume between 2.3 and 6.9 grams daily. Because high sodium intake can be associated with high blood pressure, it is important to limit salt use. Yet since people often lose their sensitivity to flavors and smells as they grow older, they may also increase their use of salt.
It can be easy for people to change a few dietary habits to reduce sodium intake without greatly changing their diet.
To begin with, learn which foods in general contain less sodium. Fresh foods usually have less sodium then processed ones. Fresh meat is lower in sodium than lunch meat, bacon, hot dogs, sausage and ham all of which have sodium added to flavor and preserve them. Most fresh vegetables are naturally low in sodium, while canned vegetables and vegetable juices usually have salt added. Canned peas, for example, have 90 times more salt than fresh peas.
Commercially prepared foods, such as soups, frozen dinners and other “fast food” items all have added salt. One TV dinner can provide all the salt an average adult needs for several days. Beware of salty snacks, such as potato chips, pretzels, crackers and nuts.
When grocery shopping, read nutrition labels for sodium content. If sodium is one of the first three ingredients listed, the product is high in sodium.
When cooking meals at home, try to gradually reduce the amount of salt you use each day. People should remember that salt is not the only way to flavor foods. Instead of reaching for the salt shaker, try adding lemon, pepper, herbs, onion, garlic powder, or other spices.
Remember to go easy on some condiments. Ketchup, mustard, relish, soy sauce and salad dressings have high sodium content, as do pickles, olives and dips.
If your food tastes bland without the added salt, try chewing it more thoroughly. This will allow food to better interact with taste receptors in the mouth while also aiding in digestion. It may also help to alternate bites of different foods.
If you plan to use a salt substitute, be sure to ask you doctor first. These preparations usually contain potassium and can be harmful to people with some medical conditions.

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