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Salt is an ingredient in just about every type of processed food or restaurant meal. So it's no wonder most Americans are getting double or triple the amount of sodium they need each day.

You can limit the salt in your meals and still have food that tastes great. Start with these four tips:

1. Cook It Yourself

Packaged foods often have a lot of salt in them, since salt is a preservative. Cooking your own meals is the best way to control how much sodium goes into your food.

Choose fresh poultry, fish, and meat instead of processed or smoked varieties. Opt for fresh fruits or vegetables instead of canned; or use low-sodium canned. If you use canned foods, such as tuna, veggies, or beans, rinse the contents first to wash away some of the sodium.

For side dishes, make brown rice or whole baked potatoes instead of instant or flavored rice or mashed potatoes.

2. Check on Salty Items

Check every food label for sodium content. Look for products labeled "sodium-free" (less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving), "very low sodium" (35 milligrams or less per serving), or "no salt added."

Know that broths, dressings, soy sauce, bouillon cubes, meat tenderizers, seasoned salts, and condiments (mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce), are notoriously high in salt.

Watch for additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), baking soda, baking powder, and sodium benzoate, which are all sodium compounds.

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