Sodium is needed in the body to help maintain water and mineral balances and blood volume. While your body needs about 1,500 milligrams per day, the average person consumes about twice that amount. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recommend adults consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily—about 1 teaspoon of salt.
Too much sodium in your system causes your body to retain water leaves you feeling sluggish and heavy. It also creates more work for your heart, which often raises blood pressure.
Embrace the following ideas to cut back on sodium:
- Flavor your foods with lemon, wine, and vinegar, which can take the place of salt.
- Choose fresh, whole foods over processed foods. Processed foods tend to be high in sodium.
- Always read labels for the foods you buy, especially the sodium content on the nutrition facts label and the ingredients list. Fat free foods, for instance, are often high in sodium content. Meat and poultry are commonly injected with saline, (salt water), as part of their processing. Breads are the number one provider of salt in our diet.
- Choose reduced sodium versions of any packaged foods. Look for no more than 1 mg of sodium per calorie of food.
- Pair salty foods with non-salty foods. For example, rice and pasta can be served with an adequately seasoned item without the need for salting.
- Don’t Salt First. Kick the habit of reaching for the salt shaker as soon as you get your food; taste your food before you salt. When cooking, add salt later in the cooking process rather than earlier. If a recipe calls for salt, cut the amount called for in half and taste it before adding more.
- You may be accustomed to a strong salt taste without being aware of it. Mindful eating will help you recognize the difference between the taste of salt and of good healthy food.