While adding salt may enhance your food's flavor, too much of it can leave a bad taste in your mouth when it comes to your health. According to MSNBC, "The average American consumes 50 percent more sodium than the maximum recommendation." (See Reference 1) A diet high in sodium is one of the main causes of high blood pressure, which can lead to hypertension. (See Reference 1) In fact, roughly 65 million Americans over the age of 20 have hypertension or take blood pressure medication. (See References 1 and 2) The American Heart Association wants salt awareness to be a higher priority, and the FDA may set limits on the allowable amount of salt added by food producers. (See Reference 1)
Whether you have high blood pressure or cardiovascular issues, or you want to lose weight, a low sodium diet is a great way to reduce your salt consumption. You may be thinking that means eating bland food. However, many flavorful foods are available that qualify as low-sodium foods.
Here is a comprehensive list of low-sodium foods. (See Reference 3) Any fresh or frozen beef, lamb, pork, poultry and fish Eggs and egg substitutes Low-sodium peanut butter Dry peas and beans (not canned) Low-sodium canned fish Drained, water- or oil-packed canned fish or poultry Milk, yogurt, ice cream and ice milk Low-sodium cheeses, cream cheese, ricotta cheese and mozzarella Breads, bagels and rolls without salted tops Muffins and most ready-to-eat cereals All rice and pasta, but do not add salt when cooking Corn and flour tortillas and noodles Low-sodium crackers and bread sticks Unsalted popcorn, chips and pretzels Fresh and frozen vegetables without sauces Low-sodium canned vegetables, sauces and juices Fresh potatoes, frozen French fries and instant mashed potatoes Low-salt tomato or V-8 juice. Most fresh, frozen and canned fruit Low-sodium canned and dehydrated soups, broth and bouillon Homemade soups without added salt Unsalted butter or margarine Vegetable oils and sodium-free salad dressings All desserts made without salt
Beyond eating low-sodium foods, you can affect your salt intake by changing your eating habits and getting educated. You can use spices and herbs instead of salt to season your food. (See Reference 3) Cook food at home so you are in control of the amount of salt added. (See Reference 3) Learn how to read nutrition labels, and pay close attention to the amount of sodium per serving. (See Reference 4) Government guidelines recommend 2,300 mg of sodium per day. (See Reference 1) That's only 1 tsp. (See Reference 1)
Remember, a little sodium can be good for you. Sodium can maintain fluid balance, regulate blood pressure, transmit nerve impulses and help muscles expand and contract. (See References 1 and 3)
Lowering the amount of salt you consume may lower your risk for health problems, including cardiovascular and weight-related issues. (See References 1, 3 and 4) A low-sodium diet in combination with exercise is a great way to lead a healthier lifestyle. (See References 1 and 4) Speak with your physician or a registered dietitian to customize the plan that is best for you. (See Reference 4)