Did you know that May is High Blood Pressure Awareness Month? One of the biggest culprits of high blood pressure is sodium. And sodium abounds in almost every packaged food on the grocery store shelves and almost every dish you order at a restaurant.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mgs) a day and an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults. What can you do to reduce your salt intake?
One of the simplest ways to reduce salt intake is to cook more at home. This will help you control the salt that goes into your food. Soups for example are so easy to “throw together” and I promise you that almost every recipe will have less sodium than canned soup, many of which contain close to 40 percent of the amount of sodium you should have in a given day.
Here are some ways the American Heart Association recommends reducing salt when preparing food:
- Use onions, garlic, herbs, spices, citrus juices and vinegars in place of some or all of the salt to add flavor to foods.
- Drain and rinse canned beans (like chickpeas, kidney beans, etc.) and vegetables – this can cut the sodium by up to 40 percent.
- Combine lower-sodium versions of food with regular versions. If you don’t like the taste of lower-sodium foods right now, try combining them in equal parts with a regular version of the same food. You’ll get less salt and probably won’t notice much difference in taste. This works especially well for broths, soups, and tomato-based pasta sauces.
- Cook pasta, rice, and hot cereal without salt. You’re likely going to add other flavorful ingredients to these foods, so you won’t miss the salt.
- Cook by grilling, braising, roasting, searing, and sautéing to bring out the natural flavors in foods – that will reduce the need to add salt.
- Incorporate foods with potassium, like sweet potatoes, potatoes, greens, tomatoes and lower-sodium tomato sauce, white beans, kidney beans, nonfat yogurt, oranges, bananas and cantaloupe. Potassium helps counter the effects of sodium and may help lower your blood pressure.
You can learn more about ways to reduce salt at restaurants and even find recipes at the American Health Association’s Break up with Salt website.