February is American Heart Month, and one way you can get closer to heart health is by reducing sodium in your diet.
The majority of sodium in our diets doesn’t come out of the salt shaker. It comes from packaged, processed and restaurant food. Even foods that may not taste salty can be major sources of sodium.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans aged two years and older reduce sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg per day. People aged 51 years and older and those of any age who are African American or who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease — about half the U.S. population and the majority of adults — should reduce sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day.
Here are nine things you can do to dramatically reduce sodium in your diet:
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Buy fresh, frozen (no sauce or cheese added) or no salt added canned vegetables.
- Use fresh poultry, fish, pork and lean meat, rather than canned, cured, salted, smoked and other processed meats.
- When available, buy low sodium, lower sodium, reduced sodium or no salt added versions of products.
- Limit sauces, mixes, and “instant” products, including flavored rice and ready-made pasta.
- Use spices and salt-free seasonings to flavor your food.
- Compare Nutrition Facts labels on food packages for the Daily Value (DV) percentage or amount of sodium in milligrams (mg) per serving and choose the lowest sodium option.
- When eating out, ask for no salt added.
- Ask your doctor for a referral to a registered dietitian to help you look for additional ways to reduce sodium.