BLOG: How to reduce salt in our diet
In the last blog, we looked at studies that show salt’s role in raising blood pressure. Here are some steps we can take to reduce our salt/sodium intake.
- Read the nutrition label. Choose foods and beverages lower in sodium.
- Look up the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) online and read through the recommendations. Then, cook your own food and limit packaged and processed foods such as sauces, mixes, and instant products. The DASH diet can be found on the American Heart Association’s website.
- Throw out your salt shaker and use non-sodium flavoring. Try no-salt seasonings, spices, herbs, and citrus fruit juice.
- Buy fresh foods–fresh meat, poultry, and seafood without added saline or saltwater.
- Check your vegetables. Buy fresh, frozen or no-salt-added canned vegetables. Rinse canned vegetables, beans and tuna with water.
- Chose low-sodium or no-salt-added snacks and condiments.
- When dining out, select lower sodium restaurant meals.
You may have heard that sea salt has less sodium than table salt. That’s only true if you are comparing a fixed volume such as the amount of sodium in a teaspoon. The crystals in table salt are small, while the crystals in sea salt and Himalayan salt are larger. Fewer of those large crystals will fit on a level teaspoon. A level teaspoon of table salt contains 2300 mg of sodium while a level teaspoon of sea salt contains 2000 mg of sodium and Himalayan salt contains 1700 mg of sodium. If we compare weight instead of volume, each salt form has the same sodium content.
How do you know what level of salt intake is right for you? Lowering salt intake to the suggested 5.6 grams per day (about 2200 mg of sodium or 1 teaspoon of salt) is a good practice. Certain groups of people are more sensitive to salt than others. These include those with resistant hypertension, African Americans, and middle-aged and older adults as well as heart failure patients.
If you have questions about your diet and sodium intake, ask your physician at your next visit.
David Wendt, MD, FACC