Do you consume too much sodium? If you’re an average American, you probably do! The USDA recommends not to consume more than 2,300 mg per day (1) but reports that the average American consumes about 3,400 mg each day. Although sodium promotes regular functioning of our body, over consumption can lead to high blood pressure and related diseases. Keep reading to learn how you can lower your sodium consumption to a healthy amount.
1. Substitute for Sodium in Your Cooking
Did you know you can still create flavor in your cooking without using sodium? In vegetable salad, adding a little vinegar and fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, or cilantro can add a lot of flavor. Adding dry herbs and spices in your cooking such as oregano, parsley, curry, paprika, cumin, chile, garlic and more can also develop strong flavors that prevent you from needing to add excess salt.
2. Read Nutrition Labels
Reading nutrition labels is a great way to be aware of how much sodium is in your food. A nutrition label tells you how many milligrams (mg) are in that food in a serving, as well as what percent that is of the daily value (2,300mg). You may be surprised by how much sodium is in foods that you use everyday!
3. Avoid Adding Excess Salt to Dishes
Are you the type of person who is always looking for the salt shaker, even at restaurants? Maybe it’s time to stop relying on it to flavor your food. A single teaspoon of salt contains 2,325mg of sodium! That’s just above the daily limit set by the USDA!
4. Rinse Off Canned Vegetables
Salt is typically used in foods as a preservative. Canned foods have salt add to them, so it’s always beneficial to give them a rinse before you eat them. Foods such as canned beans can easily be rinsed in a strainer or colander before eating.
5. Limit Packaged Foods
Again, salt is used as a preservative to prevent bacterial growth and spoilage. As a result packaged foods tend to be much higher in sodium than fresh foods. Try to avoid processed foods when possible. For example, if you’re making a chicken sandwich you can thinly slice a chicken breast grilled at home as opposed to chicken deli slices. The chicken deli slices probably have much more sodium.
If you’re unable to buy fresh produce and are deciding between canned or frozen, chose frozen if possible. It’s 100% okay to enjoy your favorite packaged foods from time to time (I will never give up prosciutto or cheese), but limiting these foods in your everyday life is a great way to keep your sodium intake at bay.
6. Cook at Home
Cooking at home is one of the best ways to keep your salt levels in control because you know exactly how much salt is in your food. Not all restaurants have nutrition labels and if they do, sometimes not all chefs following the same recipe. If you can’t prepare all your meals at home, try to at least cook as much as you can to minimize sodium intake.
7. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Most packaged snack foods such as chips or pretzels have a lot of salt. While raw fruits and vegetables have very little. Choosing fresh fruit and vegetables as a snack can help prevent you from consuming excess sodium.
8. Be Conscious of Your Condiments
Condiments such as ketchup, dips, dressings, and packaged sauces can be high in salt adding excessive sodium to your meals. Try to use condiments in moderation and be aware of how much sodium is in them.