But you don’t know how to switch to a healthy low sodium diet with tasty low sodium foods.
And while it’s true that salt adds flavor to food, Americans (ages 2 and up) average 3,436 mgs of sodium a day – nearly 20 times more than you need. In fact, your body requires less than 1/4 teaspoon of salt a day.
So, how much sodium per day equals too much sodium from too much salt.
Table salt is approximately 40% sodium. To be absolutely clear just how much sodium is in salt and how much salt is too much, let’s check it out:
• 1/8 teaspoon salt = 300 mg sodium (all most people need)
• 1/4 teaspoon salt = 600 mg sodium
• 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,200 mg sodium
• 2/3 teaspoon salt = 1,500 mg sodium (recommended)
• 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,800 mg sodium
• 1 teaspoon salt = 2,400 mg sodium (too much sodium)
How to Shake the Salt Habit
Studies indicate that people can be healthy on as little as 200 mg of sodium daily. The recommendation is no more than 1,500 to 2,300 mgs a day.
Surveys show the average American’s top 10 sources of sodium are:
• Hot dogs
• White rolls
• Refined rice
• White breads
• Pizza with meat
• White flour tortillas
• Processed cheeses
• White pasta with sauce
While cutting back on the use of your salt shaker is important, most sodium in the American diet comes from restaurant and processed foods. And remember, a food can be high in sodium and still not taste salty.
So, how can you tell if a processed food is high in sodium? Read labels!
And if you have some healthy canned or processed foods that you like, look for salt or sodium free versions. Here are some serving guidelines:
• Very low sodium foods have 35 mg of sodium or less.
• Sodium-free or salt-free means under 5 mg of sodium.
• Low sodium products have fewer than 140 mg of sodium.
• Lite or light in sodium is 50% less sodium – check the mgs.
• Reduced or less sodium means 25% less sodium – check mgs.
• Unsalted or no salt added could still be high – check mgs on label.
And be sure to note serving sizes, so you count the mgs you actually eat.
Of course, your best solution for a healthy low sodium diet of healthy low sodium foods is to dramatically reduce your intake of processed foods.
Reduce Daily Sodium Intake
Studies show most all Americans get too much sodium in their diet and can greatly benefit from reducing sodium intake. Here are the best ways:
- Eat mostly fresh unprocessed foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium. Also, fresh meat is much lower than processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, sausage and ham. And watch out for breads, pastas and rice dishes with added seasonings.
- Remove or reduce the salt in recipes. Gradually cut down on the salt in soups, casseroles, stews and other dishes you cook at home.
- Limit your use of high-sodium condiments like soy sauce, salad dressings, ketchup, mustard, relish, sauces and dips.
- Be very cautious with “salt substitutes.” Many include table salt and to get the salty-taste you’re used to, you might add too much.
- Use herbs, spices and flavorings instead of salt. Start switching to fresh and dried herbs and spices to flavor your foods.
And remember, sea salt has about the same mgs of sodium as table salt.
For spicing up and flavoring fish, chicken and low fat meats, try garlic, onion, ginger, vinegar, lemon and herbs like oregano, sage, thyme, pepper, paprika, curry powder, tarragon, marjoram and rosemary.
Most of the same herbs and spices work to season veggies, but you can also give nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, parsley and basil a try.
The Go-Slow Low Sodium Diet
Your taste buds weren’t born with a salt addiction. And since salt cravings are acquired (over time) your taste buds can easily get used to eating low sodium foods on a healthy low sodium diet – IF you do it gradually.
What’s more you can actually enjoy eating less salt. Just take it one shake at a time and you’ll soon rediscover the true natural flavor of foods.
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