4 recommendations for reducing salt intake
When it comes to salt, the old adage of "too much of a good thing…" certainly rings true. While salt is a necessary part of any healthy diet, the fact is that most Americans overdo it. The American Heart Association recommends a daily amount of no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of salt — and even less (1,500 mg) for those above age 51 or with a certain medical history — yet the average American adult consumes nearly twice this amount on a daily basis. When a whopping 65 percent of the salt we encounter day-to-day comes from store-bought food or restaurant meals, the prospect of trying to cut down without starving ourselves in the process can seem daunting, to say the least.
Luckily, getting less salt into our diets is far from impossible, it just requires a little creativity when it comes to choosing our food. Here are a few suggestions from Medical Daily on how to best swap out some of the excess salt that may be creeping into your meals:
- Choose foods that are high in fiber: "Foods high in fiber and low in sodium help to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity," writes the source. "Not only are they good for your digestive tract, they also help to lower hypertension and decrease the amount of water weight." Food items that are rich in fiber can also help cut down on cholesterol levels as well as introduce more natural antioxidants into the body, reducing cardiovascular disease risks.
- Read the label: Always check the back of the box before buying packaged food. Specifically, you should always look at the milligrams of salt, rather than the percentages. For low-sodium options, the FDA recommends no more than 140 mg per serving, so make sure the food label on the back matches up with these standards.
- Research restaurants: A lot of restaurants will use processed or packaged foods that are high in salt as ingredients for their meals. Before going out to eat, call ahead to find out the kinds of ingredients they use. Some places, like fast food chains, you can steer clear of just as a rule of thumb — there's no getting around the high concentrations of salt there.
- Try spices: Instead of flavoring your dishes with salt, use a variety of herbs or spices, such as oregano, masala, ginger, cumin, parsley or tarragon. If you're using ready-made spices bought from a store, though, make sure to check out their ingredients first — these items typically contain plenty of salt on their own.
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