Although health experts argue over how much sodium is safe to eat, the truth is, most of us would do better with less of it. Our main source of sodium comes from the foods we eat, so here are six simple ways to reduce sodium your diet!
Reducing the salt in your diet helps you to reduce your blood pressure, as well as keep your heart, kidneys and bones healthy. Below we describe six easy ways to reduce the sodium in your diet.
1. Eat at home
Restaurants and food companies use large quantities of salt in their food. If you want to reduce the salt in your diet, it is best to cook at home, where you can measure the amount of salt that you use. If it is difficult for you to cook every night, you could cook on the weekends, for example, and freeze portions of food for defrosting when you need them.
2. Eat a lot of fruit and vegetables
If it is hard to totally abandon the salt shaker, then try using a lot of fruit and vegetables in your cooking. Research confirms that eating food that is rich in potasium helps to reduce the effect sodium has on blood pressure and artery dilation. If you really want to neutralize some of the negative effects of sodium consumption, eat foods that are high in potasium, such as oranges, bananas, potatoes, tomatoes, dried apricots, melons and beans.
3. Reduce the salt slowly
It goes without saying that cutting out salt from your diet is great, however, it is not practical. You can more easily reduce your salt intake by 25%, in stages, which you won’t even notice. It is a scientific fact that salt is an acquired taste, and the more you eat, the more you become accustomed to it.
4. Read the labels on packaging
The ideal approach to avoiding salt is to leave behind those highly processed foods and choose fresh or minimally processed options. You can read the nutritional information on the label to find out which products have the lowest levels of sodium. Even better, you can read all the labels of the products that you usually buy, such as crackers, mineral water, sausages, white flour, cheese, ham, etc, and thus, know which ones you should avoid or cut back on.
5. Eat some foods without salt
It is not necessary to give up all food products containing salt in order to keep your sodium intake in check. Try using salt-free convenience foods in soups, stews and casseroles. Then add salt to taste, in moderation. Frozen vegetables and dry beans usually don’t have any added salt, and you can also find salt-free canned chickpeas and vegetables.
6. Use spices and fresh herbs
Contrary to popular belief, salt is not the best flavor-enhancer for food. Spices and herbs are! So, instead of letting salt dominate a dish, season your food with spices and fresh herbs, such as curry, pepper, thyme, garlic and onion, which not only enhance the flavor of any dish, but also boast great health benefits.
Image courtesy of Markus.