We are all aware that a diet high in sodium can affect our health and some of our vital body parts like kidneys and liver.  A low salt diet is also recommended for people suffering from high blood pressure.  It is therefore important that we eat balanced diets that are low in salt regardless of our age and medical condition.

Follow the tips below to eliminate excessive salt intake as there are a lot of processed food items that are very high in sodium and their frequent consumption can cause you to experience severe health issues like high blood pressure and water retention in the body.

Read Labels Carefully
Get used to reading food labels before you make a purchase.  The sodium content will be included on the label.

  • Some foods with a high sugar content may have a high sodium content too, even if they don’t taste particularly salty.
  • The more you read labels, the more you’ll know which foods have low, normal and high amounts of sodium.
  • You’ll also be able to compare different brands to choose the one that has the lowest sodium content.

Use Fresh Meat
Using fresh meat instead of packaged meat can help you significantly reduce your sodium intake.  Here’s what you need to know:

  • Fresh meat, chicken, pork and beef, contains some sodium naturally, but the amount of sodium is usually much less than that in processed meat products (ham and bacon, for example).
  • Food items that can be stored in the refrigerator for days or even weeks at a time tend to have a very high sodium content.
  • As an alternative, you can still store fresh meat in the freezer for a few weeks, eliminating excessive sodium from your food and making sure you have enough food ready to go when you need it.

Shop for Fresh Veggies
Just as with processed meats, canned vegetables have more sodium than farm fresh vegetables.

  • Whenever possible, steer clear of canned and frozen veggies and fruits and opt for the fresh ones instead.
  • If you must purchase frozen veggies, look for ones that are labeled “Fresh Frozen” on the package.
  • Also, don’t buy frozen veggies that are seasoned or that come with sauces.

Shop Smart for Spices and Seasonings
When shopping for spices and seasonings, check the label and choose the ones that don’t list sodium at all.  This means that the product doesn’t contain enough sodium to be listed on the label.

  • You’ll notice that similar spices and seasonings actually have very different sodium levels.  For example, garlic powder has much less sodium than garlic salt, but the taste is more or less similar.

Get Educated When Eating Out
It’s always good to know which generic items are lowest in sodium.  That way, when you head to a coffee shop, go for a dinner, visit a restaurant or an ice cream parlor, you’ll know which item to choose from the menu.

  • When heading to a specific restaurant, especially a chain restaurant, you can check their website for nutritional information.  The sodium content of each dish will be listed there.
  • You can also request that your meal be prepared without extra salt, sauces and seasonings.

Train Yourself To Go Without Salt
People who like salty foods have to work harder to go without so much sodium in their diet.

  • Keep in mind that it can take up to eight weeks to truly change your eating habits from having meals with a good amount of salt to consuming low salt diets.
  • It may also take a long time for you to totally eliminate foods that are high in salt like chips, packaged meat, processed foods etc.  However, when you reach that point, your mind and body will thank you for switching to a healthier diet.

There are no two ways about it: when you’re talking about dietary sodium, it’s better to have less.  Today, most people in the United States consume 50% more sodium than the recommended daily amount.  Diets that are high in sodium can cause increased blood pressure, which can eventually lead to kidney failure.  Pay attention to how much sodium you eat on a regular basis to keep a check on your health.

For more information, visit Careworks.

Author: Michele Holincheck, FNP

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