Nine out of 10 Americans eat much more sodium (salt) than they need. Too much sodium increases your risk for health problems like high blood pressure. Use these tips to help lower the amount of sodium in your diet.
Know your sodium limit.
- Healthy teens and adults need to limit their sodium intake to no more than 2,300 mg a day (about 1 teaspoon of salt).
- Some people, including children, adults age 51 and older, and those with high blood pressure, need to keep their sodium intake even lower (no more than 1,500 mg a day).
- Ask your doctor how much sodium is okay for you.
To eat less sodium, you don’t have to make lots of changes at once. If you cut back on sodium little by little, your taste for salt will change with time.
Check the label.
- Use the Nutrition Facts label to check the amount of sodium in foods. Try to choose products with 5% Daily Value (DV) or less. A sodium content of 20% DV or more is high.
- Look for foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”
Shop for low sodium foods.
- Load up on vegetables, fruits, beans, and peas, which are naturally low in sodium. Fresh, frozen, and dried options are all good choices.
- When you buy canned fruit, look for options packed in 100% juice or water.
- When you buy canned vegetables and beans, choose ones with labels that say “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”
- Compare the sodium in processed foods like bread, soup, and frozen meals. Choose the ones with less sodium.
- Limit processed meats – especially ones that are salted, smoked, or cured, like hot dogs, bacon, and deli meats.
Prepare your meals with less sodium.
- If you buy canned foods (like vegetables, beans, or fish), choose low sodium varieties.
- If you use canned foods that aren’t low in sodium, rinse them before eating to wash away some of the salt.
- Use unsalted margarine or spreads with no trans fats.
- Don’t add salt to the water when you cook pasta or rice.
- Try different herbs and spices to flavor your food, like ginger or garlic.
Get less salt when you eat out.
- When you order at a restaurant, ask that salt not be added to your food.
- Choose low-sodium options when you can – like dishes that are steamed, broiled, or grilled.
Add more potassium to your diet.
Eating more potassium can help lower your blood pressure. Good sources of potassium include potatoes, cantaloupe, bananas, dry beans, and yogurt.