There’s nothing wrong with adding a dash of salt to flavor your dishes, but you don’t want to overdo it. This is especially true if you or a loved one has been recently put on a low-sodium diet. What gets complicated is that so many foods contain salt, so it can add up quickly. For example, salt can be found in canned vegetables, cereals, condiments, breads and cheese.
The American Heart Association suggests having no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day. If you’re on a low-sodium diet, your doctor may suggest that you stick to 1,500 mg or less. Below we’ve listed out a few tips to help you reduce your salt intake and enjoy a healthier diet.
Choose Fresh Foods
When possible, always opt for the fresh version. If you enjoy eating sandwiches, skip the deli meat and choose lower sodium meats such as fresh turkey. The same goes for canned vegetables. Even though they are convenient, they contain more salt than fresh varieties. Frozen fruits and veggies are an option, as well as fresh vegetables that can be steamed in a package. They’re easy to work with, tasty and contain no added salts.
Always Read the Labels
It’s important to be informed. People are often surprised to learn how much sodium is in a simple serving of ketchup or barbecue sauce. As you get used to reading labels, you’ll be more comfortable estimating how much salt you’re eating in a meal. You can also choose low-sodium varieties of foods when possible, or skip condiments and garnishes like pickles and ketchup.
Eat at Home
It’s always wonderful to go out for dinner, but eating at home is best. Restaurants use a lot of sodium to flavor their foods, and one meal out can give you enough sodium for an entire day! Not only is extra salt added but so are other ingredients such as butter and oil. Fortunately, many restaurants post their nutrition facts, so you can choose a healthier meal from the menu before going out.
Experiment with Other Flavorings
People use salt to flavor their foods, but there are many, many ways to add taste to your dishes! Experiment with herbs and spices that don’t contain sodium such as oregano, parsley, thyme, dill and others. Some blended seasonings (i.e., taco seasoning) will have added sodium, so be sure to check the labels first. Olive oil is another way to flavor your idhes, just remember that less is more.
Eating a low-sodium diet may seem difficult at first, but it’s one of the best things you can do for your health! As you learn to identify which foods to steer clear from and you experiment with new herbs and spices that you like, you’ll have no problem embracing a lower sodium diet.