7 easy ways to reduce sodium in your diet

Prepare healthy and low-salt meals at homeThere are many good reasons to reduce sodium in your diet. While sodium is essential to health, too much of it can cause health problems. According to the American Heart Association, excess sodium can raise your blood pressure, lead to weight gain, bloating and even increase your chances of a stroke. Here are seven great ways to take control of your health and reduce sodium in your diet.

1. Eat fewer processed and packaged snacks. Packaged foods are quick, tasty, and easy, which is why we eat so many of them. However, foods like heat-and-eat meals, snack cakes and deli meats are typically full of sodium. Instead of packaged foods, look for healthy snacks that are low in sodium, like fresh fruit or unsalted nuts.

2. Check the labels. If you’re trying to reduce sodium in your diet, start checking the nutrition labels on the foods you eat. You may find that the amount of salt is higher than you expected. The American Heart Association recommends that adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Reid Health’s helpful guide on common food label phrases can help you to identify lower salt options.

3. Cook healthy meals at home. Meals in restaurants can be a hidden source of excess sodium. If you’re tracking your sodium intake, it can be very hard to know how much salt was added to your food as it was prepared. Instead, try cooking some affordable and healthy meals at home with heart-healthy foods. When you make your own food, you can easily control how much sodium you add.

4. Bring out the flavors of your food. While you’re cooking, reduce sodium by opting for more flavorful ingredients. Things like onions, garlic, peppers, lemon juice and spices can add a ton of flavor to your meal. That means you can enjoy your food’s natural flavor and rely less on salt.

5. Ensure you are getting enough potassium. Potassium is a mineral that’s found in foods like bananas, avocados, yogurt and fish. It helps your body to process extra sodium in your body and can lower your blood pressure.

6. Taste your food before adding salt. For many of us, it’s a habit to reach for the saltshaker as soon as the plate hits the table. Breaking this habit can help you lower the amount of added salt in your diet and allow you to enjoy more of your food’s natural flavor. So next time you sit down to eat, taste your food before adding salt, then add only as much as is necessary.

7. Ask the chef to use less salt. Watching your salt intake doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy going out to eat. When you’re ordering your meal, ask your waiter to inform the chef that you’re watching your sodium and that they should avoid adding salt as they prepare your meal.

There are many ways for you to reduce the amount of salt in your diet. Try a combination of these ideas to lower your sodium intake, improve your blood pressure and take control of your health.

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