Salt plays a role in high blood pressure. Everyone, including children, should reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about one teaspoon of salt).
Adults age 51 and older, African Americans of any age and individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should further reduce their sodium intake to 1,500 mg a day.
Here are some ways to reduce intake.
Fresh foods are generally lower in sodium. Most of the sodium Americans eat is found in processed foods. Eat highly processed foods less often and in smaller portions, especially:
- Cheesy foods
- Hot dogs
- Deli/luncheon meats
- Ready-to-eat foods, such as canned chili and soup
Enjoy Home-prepared Foods
Cook more often at home, where it is possible to stay in control of what is added to your food. Preparing your own foods allows you to limit the amount of salt in them.
Fill up on Veggies and Fruits
Fruits and vegetables are naturally low in sodium. Eat them fresh or frozen. Eat a vegetable or fruit at every meal.
Choose Lower Sodium Dairy and Protein Foods
When shopping, look for fat-free or low-fat milk and yogurt in place of cheese, which is higher in sodium.
Choose fresh beef, pork, poultry and seafood. Sausages and canned products like corned beef are higher in sodium.
Choose unsalted nuts and seeds.
Adjust Your Taste Buds
Cut back on salt little by little—and pay attention to the natural tastes of various foods.
One’s taste for salt will lessen over time.
Read the Nutrition Facts label and the ingredients statement on all packaging.
Look for foods labeled:
- Low sodium
- Reduced sodium
- No salt added
Ask When Ordering
Restaurants may prepare lower sodium foods per the diner’s request and will serve sauces and salad dressings on the side.
Ask for low-sodium foods when eating out and use less of the sauces and dressings.
Use Condiments with Care
The following are high in sodium:
- Soy sauce
- Seasoning packets
- Salad dressings
Choose low-sodium options or use only a sprinkling of flavoring packets instead of the entire packet.
Skip the Salt
Skip adding salt when cooking. Keep salt off the kitchen counter and dinner table.
Instead, season foods with:
- Black or red pepper
- Lemon juice
- No-salt seasoning mixes