Salt = Sodium

The recommended amount of sodium in a person's diet is about 2,300 mg per day (about 1 teaspoonful of salt).  Most people have a lot more salt in their food than is recommended.  In some people too much salt will increase their blood pressure.  African-Americans, the elderly and people with diabetes are at high risk of having high blood pressure due to too much salt in the foods they eat.

If you have high blood pressure, your doctor has probably told you to lower the salt in the foods you eat.  Maybe you have tried putting the salt shaker away or started adding less salt to the foods you cook. Congratulations!  These are steps in the right direction.

Keep the salt shaker in the cupboard.  Try some other ways to lower the salt in your diet by doing more cooking from scratch and buying fewer processed foods.

1.  Cook more meals and snacks "from scratch"
Making meals and snacks from fresh ingredients will make a big difference in the amount of salt in the foods you eat.  Have fun trying simple recipes that use mostly fresh fruits, vegetables and meat.  Eating fresh foods and limiting the salt you add to food at the table and in cooking is the best way to lower salt to recommended amounts.


2.  Become a careful shopper
If you don't cook from scratch very often you probably buy processed foods.  A processed food is easy to spot.  These are foods that are often ready to eat or are pre-packaged.  80% of the salt most people eat comes from processed food.  Your shopping skills -- especially making food choices based on the information on food labels -- will play a big role in your success in lowering the salt in your diet.

Some high-salt foods include: condiments, pickles, ham, bacon, salsa, cheese, deli or lunch meats, olives, broths, canned foods and anything processed.  Check the sodium content on food labels and think twice about anything with over 300 mg per serving.

More Tips for Reducing Sodium in Your Diet

  • Buy fresh, frozen (without added sauces/seasonings) or canned "with no salt added" vegetables.
  • Use fresh poultry, fish and lean meats, 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 salt.  Cut back on frozen dinners, pizza, packaged mixes, canned soups or broths, and salad dressings -- these often have a lot of salt.
  • Rinse canned foods, such as tuna, to remove the salt.
  • Look for low-or reduced -sodium or no salt added versions of foods.

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This institution is an equal opportunity provider. This material was funded by USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. The University of Maryland Extension will not discriminate against any person because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry or national origin, marital status, genetic information, political affiliation, and gender identity or expression. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more about Maryland’s Food Supplement Program (SNAP), contact the Maryland Department of Human Resources at 1-800-332-6347 or apply online at https://mydhrbenefits.dhr.state.md.us/.
© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall