The more salt you eat, the greater the potential rise in your blood pressure — so people with hypertension should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day. One surefire way to reduce your intake: Take the saltshaker off the table, and try not to add salt to foods you prepare at home. If you miss the flavor, experiment with some of the salt substitutes on the market. When you do use salt, use a coarser salt with less sodium per teaspoon, like kosher salt and certain coarse-grain sea salts.
When you’re comparing nutrition labels on products at the grocery store, make sure you check the sodium content too. All nutrition stats are listed per serving, so if you eat more than one serving, you’ll need to make sure you calculate total sodium accordingly. As a general rule, look for entrées with no more than 600 mg sodium and snack foods with no more than 300 mg — and of course, the lower the better. Go out of your way to buy brands that offer low-sodium varieties, especially when it comes to canned goods.
This list includes deli and processed meats (like bacon, sausage, and hot dogs), canned soup and broth, canned vegetables and beans, pickles, frozen entrées, and saltycondiments like soy sauce, ketchup, and bottled salad dressing. When you do use these foods, eat them sparingly or look for “reduced sodium” varieties. If you’re lucky enough to find “no salt added” versions of canned beans, tomatoes, and other products on this list at your supermarket, you’re totally in the clear.
Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains,and most other unprocessed foods are naturally low in sodium. Plus, many of these foods are rich in potassium, a mineral that helps counterbalance sodium’s elevating effect on blood pressure. (These foods are also chock-full of nutrients and low in calories — so eating more of them is an all around win). When whole foods are the foundation of your diet, you’re in charge of the specific seasonings that are added during the cooking process. Be stingy with the salt.
Restaurants (fine dining, chain, and fast food) are notorious for pouring on the salt. A single restaurant entrée can easily dish out more than 4,000 mg sodium (that’s almost triple what someone with hypertension should have!). Dining at home more often will make a significant dent in your sodium intake, and, in all likelihood, cut back on your calories, refined carb and saturated fat too. Make dining out a special treat; your blood pressure, waistline — and wallet — will thank you.
Snack on naturally low-sodium foods like crunchy apples and carrots, as well as creamy picks like bananas and yogurt. Try my Apple & PB ‘Wiches and Vanilla Pumpkin Pudding for great (lower-salt) taste.
When buying store-bought snacks, check nutrition labels and stick with items containing no more than 300 milligrams of sodium per serving — and try your very best to eat just one serving, or the sodium will quickly add up.