Are you worried about salt in your diet? Well, if your face feels puffy, clothes are a little tighter, or ankles are a little swollen, chances are, you’re right to wonder about salt and sodium in your diet. There are several things you can do in just 3 weeks to reduce bloating, lower your salt and sodium intake, and lower your cravings for it. Read on to find out how.
On average, American adults eat more than 3400mg sodium per day - that’s almost double the limit that the American Heart Association recommends for a healthy heart.
The American Heart Association recommends around 1500mg sodium per day, especially for individuals with high blood pressure.
If you are eating all packaged meals and not adding extra salt, this means that each meal should be no more than 500mg sodium. Try it out, it's tougher than it looks!
Learning to read nutrition labels, and adding up the sodium in different foods each day will help you get a handle on your dietary sodium and salt intake. Practice by changing a few things every week for 3 weeks. Each week, visit the grocery store, and compare your favorite brands with others to see how they stack up - are they higher in sodium? Or lower?
- Take a look at your intake of sodium in breads and rolls, cold cuts, deli meats, and cured or processed meats.
- Look for lower sodium alternatives for just these brands of bread and meats that you usually buy.
- Track your sodium consumption and don’t forget to write down sodium in sauces and salad dressings.
- How much bread do you eat in a day? Log how much sodium you are cutting out of your diet by changing your brands.
- Take-and-bake, frozen, or store-bought pizza is usually high sodium because of the dough, the cheese, and also the meats.
- Some poultry meat is injected with a salt-water solution to make it heavier.
- Get pizza with lower sodium content, and avoid meat on pizza (the cheese is usually enough protein).
- Add vegetables to your pizza instead of the meat. Don’t add extra parmesan on top.
- Use fresh poultry instead of canned, frozen, or processed. Always read the label (especially if the price is too good to be true).
Did you know about 75-80% of the salt in the U.S. diet is from processed foods? Avoid these to keep your sodium intake on track.
- Watch out for packaged goods: soups, chips and salty crackers, dressings, sauces and condiments.
- Canned soups will often label their soups as low-sodium very boldly on the front of the label. Don’t just go for it. Read the back to see exactly how low is it? Are there any tasty options that are even healthier?
- Most dressings and sauces are high sodium. If you can’t find a lower-sodium alternative on the shelves, you can also make a healthy dressing with a little lemon or vinegar, olive oil, fruit, and your favorite herbs.
When in doubt, remember the 6 main culprits of added salt and sodium in the diet: bread, processed meats, pizza, poultry, soups, and sauces. Avoiding processed food and eating as healthfully and naturally as possible will always eliminate the question of sodium. But if you do have a lot of sodium in a day, to reduce the bloating and fluid retention, and to help keep blood pressure in-check, add foods rich in potassium to naturally balance it out and help your body eliminate some of that extra sodium.