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IMA Wellness Blog

Eat Less Sodium: Quick tips

Nine out of 10 Americans eat more sodium (salt) than they need. Too much sodium increases your risk for health problems like high blood pressure.

To eat less sodium, you don’t have to make lots of changes at once. If you cut back on sodium little by little, your taste for salt will change with time.

Use these tips to help lower the amount of sodium in your diet.

Know your sodium limit.

Ask your doctor how much sodium is okay for you. The general guidance is:

Healthy adults and teens age 14 and older need to limit their sodium intake to no more than 2,300 mg a day (about 1 teaspoon of salt).

Some adults, including people with high blood pressure, need to limit their sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day.

Children need no more than 1,500 to 2,200 mg a day of sodium, depending on how old they are.

Check the label.

Use the Nutrition Facts label to check the amount of sodium in foods. Try to choose products with 5 percent Daily Value (DV) or less. A sodium content of 20 percent DV or more is high.

Look for foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”

Shop for low sodium foods.

Load up on vegetables, fruits, beans, and peas, which are naturally low in sodium. Fresh, frozen, and dried options are all good choices.

When you buy canned foods (like vegetables, beans, or fish), choose ones with labels that say “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”

Compare the sodium in prepared foods like bread, soup, and frozen meals. Choose the ones with less sodium.

Limit processed meats — especially ones that are salted, smoked, or cured, like hot dogs, bacon, and deli meats.

Prepare your meals with less sodium.

If you use canned foods that aren’t low in sodium, rinse them before eating or cooking with them. This will wash away some of the salt.

Use unsalted margarine or spreads with no trans fats.

Don’t add salt to the water when you cook pasta or rice.

Try different herbs and spices to flavor your food, like ginger or garlic, instead of salt.

Take the salt shaker off your table.

Get less salt when you eat out.

When you order at a restaurant, ask that salt not be added to your food.

Choose low-sodium options when you can – like dishes that are steamed, broiled, or grilled.

Add more potassium to your diet.

Replace high-sodium foods with high-potassium foods. Eating foods with potassium can help lower your blood pressure. Good sources of potassium include potatoes, cantaloupe, bananas, beans, milk, and yogurt.