9 Ways to Reduce Your Salt Intake

Salt - Angeline Jolie

There’s a war going on now in the food/health space. In the last few years, excess salt consumption has been identified by leading health organizations as a contributor to various diseases including hypertension, stroke, heart failure, kidney failure, stomach cancer, and osteoporosis. The Economist called salt the new trans-fat.

Amid this crisis, in the last 6 months, the Salt Institute in the US and the European Salt Association have mounted a counter attack, stating that salt in fact is healthy and that lowering the maximum daily amount consumed can produce negative results. The Salt groups have received the backing of the food industry, which has been trying unsuccessfully to reduce sodium levels in foods without affecting the flavor.

The American Heart Association (AHA) is now stepping in with a strongly worded submission to the FSIS (Food Safety and Inspection Services, an arm of the USDA) stating that the industry information is misleading and not based on scientific evidence. The AHA is also recommending a reduction in the daily overall sodium consumption from 2300 mg to 1500mg.

The average American consumes 3800mg today!!!

Here then, are a few ways in which you can reduce your sodium/salt intake:

1. Reduce fast food consumption. Just 2 slices of pizza or a single patty cheeseburger carry over a 1000mg of sodium, half a day’s recommended intake. Eat less fast food.

2. Challenge the Chef. Even at fine dining establishments, salt is used in significant amounts. (Butter too). However, most chefs will omit salt when requested by you. You can always add salt form the shaker on the table.

3. Read the Label. Sodium content appears on food labels on packaged foods. And may products have sodium though they don’t tase salty (bread and cereal, for example). Watch out for especially salty foods including anchovies, pickles, soy sauce, canned soup, luncheon meats, salad dressings, hot dogs, tomato juice, and ketchup. Some brands have lower sodium options. At the end of the day make sure your consumption level is less than 2300mg.

4. Salternatives. When cooking, try to use different spices and herbs to flavor the dish instead of salt. Fresh choices include Italian parsley, ginger, garlic, basil, chives, and lemon grass. Try dried spices such as chili, paprika, cumin, turmeric.

5. Choose frozen, not canned. Salt and Freezers are both “preservers”, keeping foods from spoiling. Choose frozen over canned veggies because they don’t need the salt to protect the food. As a bonus, flash frozen veggies have a higher level of nutrient content. If you do use canned vegetables, try rinsing them to get some of the salt out.

6. Delay Salting. When cooking, add salt just before serving, and in a smaller amount than called for in the recipe. Each diner can then add salt to taste.

7. Cut down on salty junk foods. A no brainer. Potato chips are brutal – a serving of 12 chips (as if) has 340mg of sodium, about 15% of the recommended daily intake.

8. Watch the sauce. Sauces and gravies add tons of sodium to your meal. Trim down the amount you add to your salad, sushi, and sub.

9. Salt detox. Train your taste buds to enjoy less salty foods. Gradually reduce the amount of salt you sprinkle over foods. After several weeks, your salt comfort zone will be lower. (By the way, you can do the same with sugar in your coffee.)

What do you do to reduce the salt in your diet?

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  • Brian

    How about: Make your own food from completely fresh sources. Just a little salt goes a long ways.

    • KG

      Brian–YES.  This “fear of salt” thing has gone way too far, imho. When you cook your own food using only whole, fresh ingredients, you add a couple of teaspoons of salt at the most.  Spread out over four people or several days, that’s not much at ALL. The cooking we do at home should NOT be a point of concern when it comes to sodium.  The things we buy in packages and from fast food or restaurant establishments are where all the salt comes from. We should stop demonizing salt and rather demonize the vehicle by which so many people get far too much sodium!
       

  • Startlite

    I can’t eat food out because it is so salty. We need salt but not as much as what is put into food. I would like the choice to salt myself or not.

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  • Mdeva

    What do people think of “NoSalt” (potassium chloride) alternatives? I’d like to hear some opinions.

    • Nbid

      Not a good alternative. They will increase potassium in the blood to possible dangerous levels if mismanaged especially those with heart and kidney aliments.

      • Mdeva

        Soooo – what you REALLY mean is that it isn’t good for people who already get their daily quota (~300mg) of K or have specific kidney/heart issues. But for the very large majority of people who don’t have those problems, and who don’t get their daily quota of K (which is a vital nutrient) is NoSalt a reasonable alternative? (I use it – albeit sparingly – primarily because I DON’T intake enough potassium).

  • Crystalsilva85

    I use Mrs. Dash salt free seasoning on my meals and at first you might not like it cause your used to salt but after awhile you’ll get use it. It’s also healthy to prepare meals yourself at home with fresh vegetables and you’ll also have control of your sodium input.

  • Anonymous

    I LOVE Kelp Seasoning by BRAGG. I mix a little bit of salt into it and it works really well! :)  

  • http://www.realwebseo.com/ Rick Roberts

    Everything which is exceeding the limit is really bad to the health. It is already expected that over intake of every food specially on condiments will really lead to health illnesses and diseases. We should be aware on our satisfaction and eradicate gluttony towards ourselves.  

  • http://www.canadianfoodiegirl.com Andrea T

    I think that when we think of salt being the enemy we’re thinking regular table salt. I was shocked last year to notice a box on someone’s table and see that “sugar” was one of the ingredients. Salt isn’t the enemy. Our body needs salt. However, our body needs salt from natural sources. Think sea salt and sea vegetables such as dulse. It’s the iodized salt that’s not good. Of course, cooking for ourselves is the way to control this.

  • Vanderjr1

    I’m Brazilian and our food normally uses more salt than most of others cultures and love our restaurants. It seems like i can’t really control it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.b.bechtel Jonathan Bechtel

    This is a good list, but I actually think it makes things too complicated. Cutting the salt out of your diet is actually simple…..but hard.

    You have to eat whole foods that you prepare yourself. In any other circumstance the deck is so stacked against you that failure is all but inevitable unless you have superhuman willpower. 

    Just my $0.02

  • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.b.bechtel Jonathan Bechtel

    And I’ll also add that salt is indeed very necessary for our body’s, so it’s not quite accurate to cast it as a bad guy, but the problem is that it’s stuffed into EVERYTHING, so the levels we consume it at approach toxic after a prolonged period of time.

  • Sammi

    Hi,

    My company’s blog, Eco 18, has a very relevant article posted to yours.  It’s also about ways to reduce your sodium intake.  I believe that you and your readers would find the article helpful and informative.

    http://eco18.com/2012/03/lowering-sodium-intake/

    Thanks!

  • Matt B

    Great post!  Is there a scientific/medical term for No. 9?  I feel like my taste buds have adjusted over time and now I just can’t stand foods with too much sodium in them.  I feel like I can actually enjoy the other natural flavors in the food itself rather than them being blocked by over packed sodium.

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  • Im

    I held my breath when i ate something with nos alt so now my taste buds just fot used to it

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  • tennysmom

    I’ve been a salt addict for several years. Ive even tried lite salt (not sure if any better for you) and I still over do that. It used to be as bad as me salting every single bite!! I’ve gotten a lot better over the last couple years. Food taste so much better with it, especially pasta and potatoes. I really try and eat healthy but salt is my weakness..wish they would come out with some kind of healthy alternative..