Having a low sodium diet is a key part to healthy living and disease prevention. Sodium promotes water retention in your cells and makes you feel bloated. Excessive intake of salty foods can lead to the development of high blood pressure, hardened blood vessels and can significantly increase your risk of strokes and heart disease. High salt diet also contributes to toxin buildups and can cause serious damage to your kidneys.
Follow these 5 steps to lower your sodium intake:
1. Drain Your Sauces
Heavy marinades, dressings, sauces and gravy are laden with artery clogging fats, salt and sugar. They contain as much as 1000 milligrams of salt in a tablespoon. Never soak up the leftover sauce on your plate with bread, rice or noodles. Use a fork or a pair of chopsticks to eat instead of a spoon to let excess sauce drip off.
2. Avoid Soups
Creamy and buttery soups and chowders are full of sodium. Even the low-sodium clear broths have more salt than you should consume. On average, a can of low-sodium soup contains about 2 serving sizes with 500 milligrams of sodium in each serving. Skip the soup and opt for a salad as appetizer, and you can cut your sodium intake by hundreds of milligrams.
3. Stay Way from Deli Meats and Salty Cheese
Deli meats, low-sodium or not, are too salty for your kidneys to handle. 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 should not be a frequent part of your diet. Some cheese like feta, gouda or brie cheese are also super salty with more than 1600 milligrams of salt per cup. Make sure to avoid these cheese whenever possible. Low-sodium American or mozzarella cheese are much healthier substitutes.
4. Replace Salt with Natural Herbs and Spices
Coffee, tea, alcohol consumption and age can cause a depletion of sensory receptors on your tongue. Food that used to be savory when you were younger may need to be heavily salted and sugared to have the same taste. Resist the temptation to sprinkle salt on your food. Instead, use natural herbs and spices to stimulate your taste sensors. 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. Adding a touch of vinegar also helps to bring out the food taste.
5. Limit Fast Food or Restaurant Dining
Most food items in fast food or fine dining restaurants are high in sodium. Sometimes ordering a salad can reduce your sodium exposure, but you have to make sure not to over-indulge on salad dressings. 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. Usually 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 salt.
These methods are simple; follow them and be safe from the risks of high sodium.