Most of us eat too much salt, which can increase your blood pressure and put you at greater risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke. Even if you don’t consciously add salt to your food, you’re not necessarily in the clear as many foods contain added salt and you may well be consuming a lot more salt than you realize. This is a worrying thought but you can easily cut down on your salt intake by following these hints.
Know which foods are high in salt.
Some foods contain a lot of salt including bacon, cheese, ham, olives, salami and smoked meat and fish. If you’re currently eating these kind of foods on a daily basis, you’ll definitely want to start cutting down on your consumption. Other foods are potentially high in salt if you don’t shop around for the options with the lowest amount of salt and these include breads (including crumpets and bagels), pasta sauce, crisps, ready meals, soup, sausages, breakfast cereals and condiments (including ketchup and mayonnaise).
Check the labels.
Get into the habit of checking the salt content and you might well be surprised at how many of your favorite products contain salt – and not just a little bit either. As well as checking the nutritional labels for a full breakdown of how much salt is included in the product, don’t forget to also have a look at the list of ingredients. If salt is featured towards the beginning of the list, the product definitely contains a good deal of added salt. Make a point of choosing low-salt alternatives where possible.
Use alternative seasonings on your food.
If you can’t live without adding salt to your food, experiment with different options such as black pepper or fresh herbs. These can add some much-needed flavor to your food without having to reach for the salt.
Make sure that you get enough potassium.
If you’re worried that you’re consuming too much salt in your diet, potassium can counteract the potential effects on your blood pressure but don’t go overboard – experts recommend that you don’t exceed 4,700mg per day. Leafy green vegetables are a good source of potassium.
Eating less salt when eating out.
It can be harder to control your salt intake if you’re eating out but you can still make smart choices:
Pizza. Pepperoni, ham, bacon and extra cheese will contain lots of salt so if you’re going to be eating pizza, go for a vegetable or chicken topping instead.
Pasta. Pasta sauces can be notoriously high in salt, especially if they contain cheese or bacon. Tomato or vegetable-based sauces are better options.
Chinese. Plain rice contains less salt than egg-fried or pilau rice.
Salads. Dressings can be high in salt so you’re better off asking for it on the side so that you can have more control over how much there is on your salad.
Sandwiches. If you’re grabbing a bite to eat for lunch, avoid fillings like ham and cheese. Better options include chicken, egg, or hummus, which are all lower in salt.
It’s true that our bodies need some sodium to be able to function properly but many of us eat far more than this and are potentially putting our health at risk as a result. Most of the salt that we consume on a daily basis has been added to our food so even if you’re not in the habit of adding extra at the table, you’re probably consuming more than you think, especially once you start checking the nutrition labels and take stock of exactly how much salt you’re consuming in the average day.
So, how much salt is in your diet? Are you in need of some changes?