Cutting Out the Salt

Many of us already know that watching sodium intake is important for your heart health. If you have any risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, family history of cardiovascular disease, being over 55 years old, being overweight or obese, smoking, or sedentary lifestyle, you may need to pay close attention to your diet to make sure you’re eating a low sodium diet.

If you have any of these risk factors, try to limit your daily sodium intakes to around 1,500 mg per day. Just one teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium! But getting rid of the salt shaker is just a fraction of where your sodium comes from. Most sodium we consume comes from processed foods in our diet.

Some of the saltiest foods include:

  • Processed meats and cheeses
  • Boxed or canned foods
  • Microwave meals
  • Sauces and gravies
  • salty seasonings and rubs

One of my tips to people trying to cut back on sodium is to aim for whole foods, such as fresh or frozen fruits or vegetables, whole grains, lean cuts of meat, etc. Instead of cooking with salt, you can cook with other herbs or spices. Thyme, oregano, garlic powder, chili pepper, paprika, black pepper, etc. are all good ways to add flavor with no extra sodium.

Here are some tips when cutting back on sodium in your diet:

  • Read food labels, aim for low sodium products (less than 140 mg per serving)
  • Rinse out canned foods, this gets rid of 1/3rd of sodium
  • Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, this is where less processed and more whole foods are located
  • Cook with sodium free flavorings, and avoid salty additives such as table salt (doesn’t matter if it’s pink Himalayan salt or regular table salt), MSG, onion salt, and garlic salt

Some of the best dietary patterns for heart health include the Mediterranean diet or DASH diet. I hope you find ways to enjoy food with less sodium!

Jordan Chen, MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian with Manhattan Nutrition Clinic.

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