10 Ways to Eat Less Salt

Recent studies have shown that Americans are eating an average of twice the recommended daily salt intake, and that’s not good. Even the RDA is about 5 times more than is actually necessary for bodily function. Excess salt intake has been linked to high blood pressure and a number of other cardiovascular issues. But with salt lurking in unexpected places, salt isn’t the easiest thing to remove from the diet.

1. It probably comes as no surprise, but fast food meals are famous for packing in the salt. The salt doesn’t just come from the salty fries though, it’s all the processed foods at fast food restaurants. If you must get your McD’s fix, check the nutritional information online to make sure you’re not swallowing more than your allotted salt in one meal.

2. Use condiments sparingly when possible. Mayo, ketchup, salad dressings and other favorites are packed with tons of salt in every tablespoon. Opt for low-sodium varieties or jut reduce your intake of these culprits.

3. When cooking, add flavor to your dishes using other things than salt. Herbs, spices, and vinegar all add lots of pizzazz without the sodium.

4. Adding more fresh vegetables into your diet will help to replace salty processed foods with a tasty alternative, not to mention a ton of other health benefits.

5. Read the labels to find sneaky culprits of high sodium. Breakfast cerelas, for example, don’t taste salty but pack a mean sodium punch. Take a bit of time at the grocery store to find lower sodium versions of the foods you love. Many of these are even labeled as such to help you out.

6. I’m all about a clam chowder a la Cape Cod (the best of which I had at the Chatham Gables Inn), but it’s important to avoid getting it from somewhere other than a can. Canned soups, vegetables, and tuna are packed with salt to help maintain flavor, and are responsible for a lot of sodium intake. Make your own soups with great crockpot recipes instead!

7. Watch out for low-fat processed food options. Often, these foods add in extra salt to maintain tasty flavor without the calories. Low-fat does not always mean healthier!

8. Limit your intake of brined and cured foods that use a lot of salt in their preparation, such as olives, pickles, salami, and bologna.

9. Avoid “Instant” products like rice, cereal, pasta, and more. Almost always, these processed foods have more salt than necessary.

10. Ask waiters which dishes are prepared without adding salt, or ask the chef to prepare yours with less salt than usual. This has the added benefit of letting restaurants know that there is a demand for low-sodium options, and may lead to increased variety of healthy options.