Cutting down on salt may help lower your blood pressure. And most Americans need to cut back, because they get more sodium than they should.
The American Heart Association recommends getting less than 2,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day, unless you have high blood pressure or if you are at risk (if you already have hypertension, have diabetes or kidney disease or are African American). Then, the recommendation is that you eat 1,500 milligrams of salt a day. That's less than a teaspoon from all your meals and snacks.
Start with these tips:
- Break the habit of automatically reaching for your salt shaker. Table salt is about 40% sodium, according to the American Heart Association. So avoid adding salt to foods at the table.
- Read the labels when shopping. Look for lower-sodium cereals, crackers, pasta sauces, canned vegetables, or any foods with low-salt options.
- Eat fewer processed and packaged foods. Packaged, processed foods account for most of the sodium in people's diets. If you prepare your own food, you control what's in it.
- At restaurants, ask about salt added to food. Many chefs will skip or cut back on salt if you ask.
- If your restaurant posts the nutrition facts for its dishes, check how much sodium is in a serving. There may be lower-sodium options on the menu.
If you need to use salt while cooking, add it at the end. You will need to add less.