Reducing Your Sodium Intake

by Debra Wyatt
(last updated April 11, 2014)

When we are told to reduce our salt or sodium intake by a doctor it usually takes us by surprise. Such advice is far more common than you might think. The average American adult's intake of sodium is about 3,300 milligrams a day. This may not seem like a lot of salt/sodium but think about it for a moment. The USDA Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for sodium is no more than 2,400 milligrams per day. This works out to be a little more than a teaspoon of salt per day. That little bit extra of salt everyday (on your eggs, your fries, popcorn, etc.) really adds up.

You may be wondering if there are signs that let you know that you are taking in too much salt. If a person is tuned into their body they can see some of the symptoms as they appear. There are two main symptoms of excess sodium—swelling and a decrease in urine output. These signs can also be symptoms of something more complicated, so you should see your family doctor.

The cook of the house is usually the one that controls how much sodium is used a day. While the cook cannot control what a person puts on his or her plate after the food is served, the cook can control how much sodium is put into the dish during preparation. While it may seem hard to do, reducing sodium/salt intake can be as simple as doing these few things:

  • Read the labels. Don't just read the labels but take action, as well. Buy the processed food with the lowest amount of sodium. There are foods that are available with 50% less sodium than other brands. If, for some reason, you cannot find these then simply rinse the contents of canned food that can be rinsed, such as canned green beans.
  • Avoid cooking with salt. When cooking use herbs and spices when cooking instead of salt. If the doctor says that it is okay, choose to use a salt substitute. Herbs and spices will add flavor to dishes.
  • Measure the salt. When cooking use a measuring spoon instead of sprinkling the salt. It may surprise you to find that as you sprinkle salt you are using more than a teaspoon.
  • Cook fresh. When cooking use fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only will they taste better but they are better for you. Fresh fruits and vegetables that have not been processed or preserved have less salt than processed food.

If you aren't able to cook or you're away from home there are still things that you can do that will help limit your sodium intake.

  • Be a choosy diner. When dining out be choosy. Choose low-sodium foods that are heart-healthy foods. Most restaurants offer heart-healthy food choices, which is usually about half the amount of sodium than the regular dishes.
  • Water. Drink more water if you have used more salt than usual. The water will help to flush out the excess sodium.
  • Avoid table salting. Avoid automatically salting your food without tasting it first. Better still, just don't put salt on the table.
  • Snacking. When snacking snack on healthy foods like fruits or unsalted nuts.

Just remember that you are in charge of being healthy, and choosing to limit your sodium intake is a great start to a healthier you.

Author Bio

Debra Wyatt

Deb has a communications degree and applies her talents to her position as Marketing Specialist at Sharon Parq Associates. In her spare time she spends time with her children and grandchildren and devotes time to her church. ...

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