Nine out of 10 Americans eat much more sodium (salt) than they need. Too much sodium increases your risk for health problems like high blood pressure. Use these tips to help lower the sodium in your diet.
Know your sodium limit.
- Healthy adults need to limit their sodium intake to no more 2,300 mg a day (about 1 teaspoon of salt).
- Some people, including children and those with high blood pressure, need to keep their sodium intake even lower (no more than 1,500 mg a day). Ask your doctor how much sodium is okay for you.
You don’t have to make all of these changes at once. Slowly reduce the amount of sodium in your foods, and your taste for salt will change with time.
Check the label.
- Use the Nutrition Facts Label to check the amount of sodium. Try to choose products with 5% Daily Value (DV) or less. A sodium content of 20% DV or more is high.
- Look for foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”
Shop for low sodium foods.
- Load up on vegetables, fruits, beans, and peas, which are naturally low in sodium. Fresh, frozen, and dried options are all good choices.
- When you buy canned fruit, look for options packed in 100% juice or water.
- When you buy canned vegetables and beans, choose ones with labels that say “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”
- Compare the sodium in foods like bread, soup, and frozen meals. Choose the ones with less sodium.
- Limit processed foods, especially foods that are salted, smoked, or cured, like hot dogs, bacon, and deli meats.
Prepare your meals with less sodium.
- If you buy canned foods (like vegetables, beans, or fish), choose low sodium varieties.
- If you use canned foods that aren’t low sodium, rinse them before eating to wash away some of the salt.
- Use unsalted butter or soft margarine.
- Don’t add salt to the water when you cook pasta or rice.
- Try different herbs and spices to flavor your food, like ginger or garlic.
Add more potassium to your diet.
Eating more potassium can help lower your blood pressure. Good sources of potassium include potatoes, cantaloupe, bananas, beans, and yogurt.