Having a low salt diet is a key to healthy living and prevention of diseases. Salty food promotes water retention, increases your blood volume and raises your blood pressure. Habitual intake of these foods can significantly heighten your risks of heart attacks and kidney failure. It is especially critical for you to monitor your salt intake if you already have higher than normal risks of these diseases. If you are diabetic, obese or have other cardiovascular or kidney disorders, you need to keep your daily sodium intake to below 2,000 milligrams to prevent sudden life-threatening attacks. Watching your salt intake also ensures the effectiveness of your treatment medication.
Below are five simple ways to cut salt from your diet.
1. Eliminate Sauces and Dressings
Never soak up the leftover sauce on your plate with bread, rice or noodles. Heavy marinades, dressings, sauces and gravy are laden with artery clogging fats, salt and sugar. You can save as much as 1,000 milligrams of salt per tablespoon if you drain your sauces by eating with a fork or a pair of chopsticks.
2. Skip Your Soups
Creamy and buttery soups and chowders are full of sodium. Even the low-sodium clear broths have more salt than you should take. An average can of reduced-sodium soup contains about 1,000 milligrams of sodium. Skip the soup and opt for a salad as an appetizer and you can cut tremendous amounts of sodium from your meal.
3. Avoid Deli Meats and Salty Cheese
Deli meats, low-sodium or not, are too salty for your health. One 2-ounce serving of deli meat can rack up about 800 to 900 milligrams of sodium. Those that are marked as “reduced-sodium” are a little better, at about 500 milligrams. Prosciutto, bacon and roast beef are not diabetic-friendly. Some cheeses like feta, gouda or brie are also super salty with more than 1,600 milligrams of salt per cup. Make sure to avoid these whenever possible. Low-sodium American or mozzarella cheeses are much healthier substitutes.
4. Spice Up with Natural Flavor Enhancers
Avoid saltine crackers or salted snacks and resist the temptation to sprinkle salt on your food. Instead, use natural herbs and spices to stimulate your taste sensors. Garlic, onion, ginger, dried chili flakes, black and white pepper, cumin, basil and cilantro are all effective flavor enhancers you can use freely in place of salt. The sour taste of vinegar can also help bring out the flavor without adding extra salt.
5. Home Cook From Scratch
Food items in fast food or fine dining restaurants are usually more savory than home-cooked foods because of their high sodium content. Ordering a salad is a healthier choice only if you have your sauce or dressing on the side. Preparing your own food from scratch with fresh produce, meat and fish is the best way to keep track of how much sodium you put into food. Generally speaking, home-cooked foods contain half as much sodium as those served in restaurants. If you do go out to eat, opt for steamed entrees or ask the kitchen to go light on the salt.