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7 Tips for Reducing Your Salt Intake
by Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D., C.D.E.

salt-spilled

Your salt intake probably has a lot to do with the way you grew up. If you were raised on a salty diet, chances are good that you have one now.

There are many reasons to limit salt. It can increase blood pressure, and eating a lot of it leads to water retention and may be linked to stomach cancer and osteoporosis.

The problem is, eating less salt takes some getting used to. Also, you may not even realize where you're getting a lot of your salt. Here are some tips for reducing salt intake without giving up taste.

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  1. Skip the garlic salt and lemon pepper. (Yes, lemon pepper is loaded with salt.) Instead, season with fresh or dried herbs and spices. Try some of the sodium-free spice mixes like Mrs. Dash.
  2. Buy foods labeled “no added salt.” If you’re having trouble getting used to them, mix one regular with one "no added" to dilute the sodium by half.
  3. If you’re seasoning something with a spice package, like a rice pilaf, use just half the pack.
  4. Look at the Nutrition Facts Panel. Check the serving size first and then the sodium. The maximum recommended daily intake is 2,300 milligrams. Ninety milligrams of sodium per tablespoon of mayonnaise may not sound like a lot, but if you’re using several spoonfuls, it sure adds up.
  5. Don’t assume you can taste salt. A medium plain bagel has around 560 milligrams, and half a cup of instant chocolate pudding has over 400, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
  6. Don’t assume “reduced sodium” is low sodium. One tablespoon of reduced-sodium soy sauce still has about 600 milligrams.
  7. Consider that most of our sodium intake comes from restaurant meals and packaged foods. That’s just one more reason to prepare a wholesome meal at home with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. (Get some healthy recipes here.)


JILL WEISENBERGER, M.S., R.D., C.D.E.,
is a registered dietitian and consultant to the food industry with her company, Jill Weisenberger Health Communications LLC.

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Last updated and/or approved: January 2011.
Original article appeared in January/February 2008 former print magazine. This general health-care information is not meant as individual advice. Please see our disclaimer.
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