Easy Tips to Lower Sodium in Your Diet - Healthy recipes and cooking tips for a healthier lifestyle

Easy Tips to Lower Sodium in Your Diet

March 28, 2024
Easy Tips to Lower Sodium in Your Diet

One of the biggest health-damaging culprits in the American diet is sodium. This mineral is considered an essential nutrient and is needed by the body in relatively small amounts to help balance fluids and for normal muscle and nerve function. But while your body needs some sodium to function optimally, many people consume too much of it. When that happens, it can lead to health issues and affect your heart. That’s why it’s important to know how to reduce the sodium in your diet.

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Where does sodium come from?

When most people think of sodium, they think of table salt. Salt is made up of sodium chloride, so you may think that all you need to do to lower sodium is to use less salt at the table. However, the salt shaker is not the biggest source of sodium in most people’s diets. More than 70 percent of the sodium we eat comes from packaged and processed foods, as well as from meals we eat in restaurants. That’s why one of the best ways to lower sodium is to cook more meals at home, using easy low sodium recipes that taste great so you don’t even miss the salt.

What happens if I eat too much sodium?

The biggest health risk of a high sodium diet is that it can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Most Americans consume about 3,400 mg of sodium every day, which is a lot more than the body needs. It is recommended that adults have no more than 2,300 mg of sodium daily. The American Heart Association suggests that sodium intake be even lower – only 1,500 mg of sodium per day or less – especially if you have high blood pressure.

How can I reduce sodium intake?

You may think it would be a lot of work to lower the sodium in your diet, but with a little practice, you can enjoy a lower sodium diet while not skimping on taste. Here are 6 tips to help you eat less salt:

  1. Cook more – Since the majority of the sodium in our diets comes from packaged, prepared and processed foods, one of the best ways to lower sodium is to cook more and limit convenience foods. When you cook meals from scratch, you can control how much salt is in the food. We have included plenty of low sodium meal ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks below that the whole family will love.
  2. Know what foods are low in sodium – Some of the best low sodium foods are those that come from nature, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. But finding foods with low sodium can sometimes be tricky. Canned vegetables can be very high in sodium, so stick to fresh or frozen produce without added salt, seasoning or sauces. While plain rice, quinoa or potatoes are low sodium, seasoned blends can be loaded with salt. Foods like poultry and other meat may be injected with high-salt solutions.
  3. Read food labels – Much of the sodium we eat comes from processed and packaged foods. Preservatives and additives used in food manufacturing contain sodium, so even if a food doesn’t taste salty, it can have a lot of sodium. Get in the habit of reading food labels to check the sodium content. You may be surprised by what you find and it will make it easier for you to choose lower sodium options when available.
  4. Embrace herbs and spices – Salt is a flavor enhancer, which is why it is so heavily used in restaurants and prepared foods. But there are plenty of flavorful herbs and spices you can use instead of salt to make your food taste delicious. Want to make low sodium dishes that make your taste buds sing? Skip the salt and instead use bold ingredients like garlic, cumin, cayenne, cardamom, rosemary, pepper, paprika, basil, thyme, ginger and more. These herbs and spices may help reduce blood pressure.
  5. Be mindful of condiments – You may be surprised by how much sodium is in many of your favorite condiments. From mustard and ketchup to soy, spaghetti and barbecue sauces, the condiments you sprinkle on top of your meal may cause your otherwise low salt dinners or lunches to be loaded with sodium with just a few shakes of the bottle.
  6. Give your taste buds time to adapt – It can be hard to completely nix the salt in your diet in one fell swoop, but if you give your taste buds time to adjust, you won’t even miss the salt after a while. By changing how you cook and what you eat gradually, you’ll be enjoying low sodium meals and foods without feeling deprived.

What’s the secret to making low sodium meals that taste great?

To make delicious low sodium dishes, you need to know how to flavor food with ingredients other than salt and sodium-filled condiments. Health eCooks is dedicated to creating heart-healthy recipes that transform your favorite dishes into lower sodium versions as enjoyable as the originals. We’ve included a selection of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack ideas here, but you’ll also find plenty of other low sodium recipes throughout our site.

Low Sodium Breakfast Ideas

Start your day with less salt by trying these tasty breakfast recipes. These low sodium breakfast foods are so delicious that you may even want to eat them for other meals, too!

Banana Pancakes

Low Sodium Lunch Ideas

Traditional American lunches can be loaded with sodium, especially if you’re used to eating on the run. Skip the high-sodium sandwiches, burgers, tacos, salads and pizzas from restaurants and instead enjoy some of these easy-to-make low sodium lunch recipes.

Beef Tacos

Low Sodium Dinner Ideas

Dinner is another meal that can be loaded with sodium, especially if you tend to eat out often or enjoy American classics. These low sodium dinner recipes taste so good that you won’t miss the salt. Your heart and blood pressure will thank you, but your taste buds will appreciate how delicious the food is!


Low Sodium Snack Ideas

Snacks, finger foods and appetizers can be notoriously salty. Think chips, nachos and fries. But these low sodium snacks keep you satisfied without wreaking havoc on your blood pressure. Plus, they’re so scrumptious that no one will even know the salt is missing!

Sweet Potato Chips

Low Sodium Dessert Ideas

Desserts are not usually loaded with salt, but if you’re looking for delicious ways to round out your low sodium meals, why not give one of these healthy dessert recipes a try? With low sodium desserts like these, it’s easy to make your heart and stomach happy at the same time!

Double Chocolate Brownies

Cooking more is one of the best ways to lower the sodium in your diet – and eating less salt is one of the best things you can do for your heart. In addition to the easy tips for reducing sodium and the low sodium meal ideas included here, you may also want to check out some of the best heart healthy foods to eat. Another way to keep your heart in tip-top shape, as well as to improve your health overall, is by eating more anti-inflammatory foods. If you’re up for the challenge, here are some of the best anti-inflammatory recipes we have created. Enjoy!

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