Strategies for Reducing Sodium
The widespread use of salt is one of the challenges of lowering sodium intake in a typical diet. Seventy-five percent of the sodium in the average American's diet comes from the manufacturing of processed foods. Only about 12 percent of it is naturally occurring in the food. Sodium quickly adds up when it is added in the following ways:
- during cooking
- as a table seasoning (salt shaker)
- in restaurant foods
- in processed, prepackaged or prepared foods (soups, chips, cheese and ice cream)
- as a natural preservative for meats and vegetables
- in some over-the-counter medications
You can use a number of strategies to reduce sodium intake:
- Don't use salt in cooking.
- Don't add salt at the table (or even have a salt shaker on the table).
- Don't eat fast food, which tends to be very salty.
- Include more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- Limit prepared and processed foods as much as possible.
- Limit salty snacks.
- Limit milk and dairy products, which contain significant amounts of sodium.
- Read food labels and learn which brands have the highest sodium content.
- Use alternative flavors and spices such as lemon juice, vinegar, peppers, onion, and fresh herbs to season food.
Eat bananas and other potassium-rich foods. Studies have shown that these foods can reduce the effect of sodium on blood pressure.
Salt substitutes (like Nu Salt® and Mrs. Dash®) are fine to use, but because some are high in potassium, you should check with your doctor before adding them to your diet.
To find out more ways to reduce sodium in your diet, take a look at the links on the next page.
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