Salt (also known as sodium) is found in many of the foods that you eat in order to help add flavor or preserve the food. Prepackaged foods and fast food menu items are notorious for being loaded with salt, and eating food that someone else prepared at a restaurant makes it even harder to determine how much salt is in a particular meal. Unfortunately, elevated salt intake can result in high blood pressure which can contribute to increasing your risk for heart disease and stroke. There are three simple ways you can reduce your salt intake on a daily basis and increase your overall health.
From this moment forward refrain from eating overly salty foods and commit to not ever adding salt to your meals again. For some people this is a viable option, and though they may have a few slip-ups here and there they can generally stick to the idea that they’ll never consume excess salt again. If you have the level of dedication it takes to do this, this sort of abstinence would be the best way to guarantee that your salt intake is drastically decreased. It may take a while to get used to how different some foods taste without salt, but a few months of staying salt free may help with that. For those with a little less willpower, the remaining two tips should help.
Salt can add flavor to your meals, which is why many people choose to cook with it or eat food prepared by someone who uses some form of sodium. However, salt is by no means the only way to season your food. Many fruits, vegetables and herbs have naturally strong flavors of their own that can help season your food without extra salt (though there may be some light sodium present–as is the case with tomatoes). Great examples are fresh onions, lemon, ginger, tarragon, peppers (hot or sweet), thyme, curry, tomatoes, lime and avocado. If you’ve tried some of these in powdered or other dehydrated forms, you’ll probably notice a big difference in the intensity of the flavor when you freshly slice, grate or puree the items yourself and add them to your food.
Saltless seasoning mixes, such as Mrs. Dash, are also great substitutions for salt that let you hold on to that strong flavor you may want in your food. Whenever you are making a substitution for salt, make sure that no, or at least very little, salt is included in the seasoning itself. Be sure to check the label for sodium content.
Even cutting back on how much salt you eat is helpful for your long-term health. The recommended daily intake of salt for adults is 1,500 milligrams–an amount of salt you could easily consume by eating a single cheeseburger at a fast food restaurant. To start the process of cutting back significantly on your salt intake, keep track of how much salt you’re consuming for 2 or 3 days. Then, do what you can to try to bring those numbers closer to the 1,500 milligrams that are recommended.
Don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor about your salt intake, and bring the number of milligrams per day down to whatever they believe to be healthy for your body (it could be as low as 500 milligrams a day). Consider small changes like not adding salt to your fries, since there’s probably already quite a bit of salt in your burger and buns. You can also cut back on eating breads and rolls since that is where the majority of salt intake comes from. Salads, lettuce wraps or soups might be slightly better solutions.
No matter how you choose to decrease your salt intake, make sure that you make your changes stick. You may not necessarily have to stop eating your favorite foods for the rest of your life, but you can limit how many times a month or a year you eat certain foods that are laden with salt, such as burgers, rolls or pizza. As hard as it may seem to cut back on your salt intake each day, understand that the payoff can be a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life.