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Harvard Commentaries
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Harvard Commentaries
Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School


Nine Tips to Reduce Salt in Your Diet


February 08, 2012

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Nine Tips to Reduce Salt in Your Diet
Nine Tips to Reduce Salt in Your Diet
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Print this list and hang it in your kitchen for easy reference.
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InteliHealth
2012-02-08
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InteliHealth Medical Content
2015-02-08

Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Nine Tips to Reduce Salt in Your Diet

 

Nine Tips to Reduce Salt in Your Diet
  1. Buy fresh, frozen or canned "no salt added" vegetables.
  2. Use fresh poultry, fish and lean meat, rather than canned or processed types.
  3. Use herbs, spices and salt-free seasoning blends in cooking and at the table.
  4. Cook rice, pasta and hot cereals without salt. Cut back on instant or flavored rice, pasta and cereal mixes.
  5. Choose convenience foods that are lower in sodium. Cut back on frozen dinners, packaged mixes, canned soups or broths and salad dressings.
  6. Rinse canned foods, such as tuna, to remove some sodium.
  7. When available, buy foods labeled "low sodium," "reduced sodium" or "no salt added."
  8. Choose breakfast cereals that are low in sodium.
  9. Snack on fruits and vegetables instead of chips.

 

Salt Substitutes
If you're trying to cut back on salt (really, sodium), you'll find tasty alternatives on your grocer's shelves. Be aware, though, that there is hidden sodium in some other ingredients that you might choose to flavor your food. Sodium is found in seasoned salt (garlic, onion and celery salts, for example), baking powder, baking soda, soy sauce and monosodium glutamate.

Adventurous cooks often rely on herbs and spices to increase flavor while cutting down on sodium. For more timid souls, the answer may be ready-made saltless mixtures, such as Spike and Mrs. Dash.

Another option is "lite" salt, which substitutes potassium chloride for about half the sodium chloride found in regular salt. Many doctors advise patients with high blood pressure to switch to this type of salt. It helps in cutting back on sodium, and also helps to replace potassium, which is washed out of the body by some diuretic medications prescribed to treat high blood pressure. However, lite salt contains too much sodium for many people who have been advised to limit their salt intake. One-fourth of a teaspoon of lite salt contains 244 milligrams of sodium. Moreover, some people tend to use more of this salt at the table to compensate for its light taste. Lite salt is not recommended for use in cooking because potassium chloride gives food a bitter taste when heated to high temperatures. Also, lite salt can be dangerous for people with kidney disease, because potassium levels may build up in them to dangerous levels.

 

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