Reaching for the salt shaker? Think again. U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend adults limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams a day. Over 51 or suffer from prehypertension or hypertension? That amount drops to 1,500 milligrams.
The majority of Americans consume more than 3,400 milligrams a day. The overwhelming major source (75%) of that sodium intake is processed foods and restaurant meals, which tend to be high in salt.
How much is the recommended 2,300 milligrams? Less than a teaspoon: One teaspoon of table salt contains 2,325 milligrams of sodium!
Here are some tips for reducing your daily sodium intake:
- Opt for more fresh fruits and vegetables, most of which are low in sodium.
- Select fresh or frozen meat, poultry and fish. Be sure to check the label to make certain the meat hasn’t been injected with a sodium solution.
- Try to avoid processed foods typically loaded with sodium such as frozen dinners, prepackaged meals and canned soups.
- When purchasing processed foods, try to select low- or no-sodium items. And be sure to check the label for the actual sodium content as labels can be misleading. For example, “very low sodium” means that each serving contains 35 milligrams of sodium or less. On the other hand, “lite” or “light in sodium” means that the sodium amount is reduced by at least 50 percent from the original version.
- Restrict use of sodium-heavy condiments. Before dashing on more soy sauce or ketchup, check the sodium content. Condiments such as sauces, salad dressings, dips, mustard and relish all contain salt. For example, a tablespoon of soy sauce typically contains 1,000 milligrams of sodium.
- Cooking at home? Leave out the salt in recipes.
- Flavor food with herbs and spices instead of using salt or sodium-heavy seasoning mixes. Some great options include basil, cumin, pepper, paprika, thyme, parsley, cilantro, mint, oregano and rosemary. Lemon, garlic and onion also add great flavor to meals.
- When eating out, ask for low salt options or that your meal be prepared without salt.