Nine out of 10 Americans eat too much salt. It’s estimated that 77 percent of our salt comes from processed and restaurant foods. If your goal is to eat less salt, here are 10 simple ways to do it.
#1: Use fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned
One-half cup of canned vegetables has about 15 percent of your daily sodium requirements. This is no surprise since sodium is used to preserve canned food. Instead, choose fresh or frozen vegetables whenever possible. If you’re stuck on the convenience of canned veggies, low sodium varieties are also available.
#2: Make your own potato chips
Chips are brimming with salt, but luckily you can make your own in a snap! My kids and chip-addicted husband loved Ellie’s Cracked Pepper Potato Chips. You can always adjust the spices to your liking.
#3: Consider condiment substitutes
Soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce and other condiments are brimming with sodium. Low-sodium versions are available, you can also try adding sodium-free flavor enhancers like vinegar or citrus juices like lime, pineapple, lemon and orange. Another option: make your own condiments like ketchup, mustard and tartar sauce.
#4: Go easy on the canned spaghetti sauce
One half cup of jarred tomato sauce packs in almost 25 percent of your daily dose of sodium. Most folks use double or triple that amount to coat their pasta! Instead look for “no salt added” versions or make your own tomato sauce.
#5: Cook more
Forgo the frozen dinners which have around 25 to 67 percent of your daily sodium recommendations. Even kid-sized frozen meals have about 34 percent of their daily recommended amounts of sodium. Lower sodium versions exist, but that doesn’t remove the laundry list of preservatives added to them. Don’t think dining out is any better- many restaurants pile on the salt. Instead, set a goal to cook more at home where you have the most control over the ingredients.
#6: Replace bottled with homemade salad dressing
Bottled salad dressings are a hidden source of sodium. Many are also high in sugar and fat. Lighter salad dressings exist, but many replace fat and salt with higher amounts of sugar (yuck!). Instead, make your own salad dressing in minutes.
#7: Swap canned broth
Do you find yourself tossing money buying tons of canned or boxed broths and stocks? Make it a weekend project to cook up a batch and freeze half to use later. Use it to flavor soup, grains, and other recipes that call for broth or stock.
#8: Choose dried beans
Instead of canned varieties, choose dried with virtually no sodium. If you’re a canned bean fan, then you’ll be happy to hear that a recent study showed that rinsing and draining canned beans reduced their sodium content by 41 percent!
#9: Use fresh herbs and spices
Resist the urge to reach for the salt shaker or spices like onion salt or garlic salt. Instead, choose fresh herbs and spices to flavor food. They’re practically sodium-free and add tons of flavor.
#10: Try Juicing
A cup of vegetable juice cocktail packs in almost one-third of your daily recommended amount of sodium. Instead, make your own favorite veggie juice combinations without worrying about the salt.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »