The average American diet contains WAYYY more sodium than is recommended. Not only does increased sodium have health detriments (ie. high blood pressure), but it can hinder weight loss as well through fluid retention. Here are some healthy tips to reduce the amount of sodium in your diet:
1. Shop around the perimeter of the grocery store. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats are all great sources of food low in sodium. Frozen fruits and vegetables can also be a good source (just make sure to check for added seasonings!).
2. Add your own seasonings. Spices and herbs are a great way to enhance flavor!
3. Steer clear of convenience foods (ie. soups, frozen meals). Convenience foods are easy, but usually come with a hefty sodium price (not to mention other nutrients they may be lacking). If you usually bring a frozen meal for lunch at work, instead try to bring leftovers from home. After dinner, we immediately portion leftovers into individual servings so we can grab them and go in the mornings.
4. Read the labels. Take a moment to read through the nutrition to decide if you even want to buy the item. The FDA has the following requirements for labels:
- No Sodium – Must have less than 5 mg sodium per serving
- Low Sodium – Must have less than 140 mg per serving
- Reduced Sodium – Must have 25% less sodium than an appropriate reference food (this one is tricky, because it can still have higher than recommended sodium)
- Lightly Salted – Must have 50% less sodium than normally added.
5. Items that don’t taste salty don’t necessarily mean they are low sodium. Cottage cheese is a great example.
6. When dining out, do your research before you go. Most chain restaurants have all of their nutrition information posted online. Look through your options and decide before you go.
7. Keep the salt shaker in the spice cabinet, not on the table.
Low Sodium Snack Ideas:
Need a snack? There are plenty of ways you can have a healthy snack without the added sodium. Here are some ideas to get started:
- Fruits – Apples, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, tangerines
- Vegetables – Carrots, celery sticks, bell peppers
- Hard boiled eggs
- Unsalted nuts – peanuts, almonds, walnuts
- Unsalted peanut butter (you can even make your own!)
- Air-popped popcorn
- Seeds (unsalted) – pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds
- Unsalted pretzels