Updated: October 6, 2012 1:39PM
A key to healthy eating is choosing foods lower in salt and sodium. Most Americans consume more salt than they need. The current recommendation is to consume less than 2.4 grams (2,400 milligrams) of sodium a day. That equals 6 grams (about 1 teaspoon) of table salt a day.
The 6 grams include all salt and sodium consumed, including that used in cooking and at the table. For someone with high blood pressure, the doctor may advise eating less salt and sodium, as recent research has shown that people consuming diets of 1,500 milligrams of sodium had even better blood pressure lowering benefits. These lower-sodium diets also can keep blood pressure from rising and help blood pressure medicines work better.
Quick facts on salt
Most sodium is consumed in the form of sodium chloride which is table salt. Other forms of sodium are also found in food, so watch out for salt and sodium.
Try to have less than 2,400 milligrams of sodium a day — that’s the same as 6 grams of salt a day, or about 1 teaspoon.
That includes all sodium and salt — what’s in the product, and added in cooking and at the table.
Processed foods account for most of the sodium and salt consumed. Check food labels — sodium is in some foods you might not expect, such as soy sauce and some antacids.
Kosher salt and sea salt are just that — salt. Don’t forget to include them in adding up your sodium intake for the day.
Reducing salt in the diet can lower blood pressure.
Tips for reducing sodium in your diet
• Buy fresh, plain frozen or canned “with no salt added” vegetables.
• Use fresh poultry, fish and lean meat, rather than canned or processed types.
• Use herbs, spices and salt-free seasoning blends in cooking and at the table.
• Cook rice, pasta and hot cereals without salt. Cut back on instant or flavored rice, pasta and cereal mixes, which usually have added salt.
• Choose “convenience” foods that are lower in sodium. Cut back on frozen dinners, pizza, packaged mixes, canned soups or broths, and salad dressings — these often have a lot of sodium.
• Rinse canned foods, such as tuna, to remove some sodium.
• When available, buy low- or reduced-sodium, or no-salt-added versions of foods.
• Choose ready-to-eat breakfast cereals that are lower in sodium.
Flavor that food
Make foods tasty without using salt. Try these flavorings, spices, and herbs:
Beef — Bay leaf, marjoram, nutmeg, onion, pepper, sage, thyme
Lamb — Curry powder, garlic, rosemary, mint
Pork — Garlic, onion, sage, pepper, oregano
Veal — Bay leaf, curry powder, ginger, marjoram, oregano
Chicken — Ginger, marjoram, oregano, paprika, poultry seasoning, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme
Fish — Curry powder, dill, dry mustard, lemon juice, marjoram, paprika, pepper
Carrots — Cinnamon, cloves, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage
Corn — Cumin, curry powder, onion, paprika, parsley
Green beans — Dill, curry powder, lemon juice, marjoram, oregano, tarragon, thyme
Greens — Onion, pepper
Peas — Ginger, marjoram, onion, parsley, sage
Potatoes — Dill, garlic, onion, paprika, parsley, sage
Summer squash — Cloves, curry powder, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage
Winter squash — Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, onion
Tomatoes — Basil, bay leaf, dill, marjoram, onion, oregano, parsley, pepper