Seven ways to reduce salt in your diet

September 22, 2015

Three-quarters of our diets' sodium isn't from a salt shaker. It's hidden in processed foods, like canned vegetables and soups; condiments like soy and Worcestershire sauce; fast-food; and cured or preserved meats like bacon and deli meats. Here's some info on salt and seven ways to reduce salt in your diet.

Seven ways to reduce salt in your diet

The skinny on salt

Some salt occurs naturally in unprocessed edibles, such as milk, beets and celery. But in these foods it's a good thing: sodium is necessary for life. It helps to regulate blood pressure, maintains the body's fluid balance, transmits nerve impulses, makes muscles — including the heart — contract, and keeps your senses of taste, smell and touch working properly. You need a little salt every day to replace what is lost to sweat, tears and other excretions.

But is having more than a little salt every day harmful?

Scientists — and the salt industry — have debated this for decades but medical evidence suggests that it is. In fact, medical experts around the world agree: most people eat too much salt.

There is a strong link between a high salt diet and the development of high blood pressure. Reducing blood pressure lowers your risk of stroke and heart disease.

Seven ways to cut your salt intake

Thankfully, you don't need to be addicted to salt. Try these salt-reduction strategies, and within a week or two, you won't miss it at all.

  1. Omit salt from recipes or measure out the same amount of coarse instead of fine salt to reduce a recipe's sodium by 25 percent. The coarse granules of coarse salts don't pack as tightly into a measuring spoon.
  2. Take the salt shaker off your table. If it's not there, you may not think about adding salt to your meal.
  3. Use other flavourings, such as herbs and spices, lemon or mustard to flavour your foods. Use spices such as coriander, caraway and fennel seeds to add flavour to fish dishes and cooked vegetables.
  4. Choose the "no added sugar or salt" varieties of canned foods such as kidney beans, chickpeas and sweet corn. If you can't find beans packed in water, rinse them thoroughly before using them, to remove some of the salt.
  5. Processed foods, such as canned soups, often contain very high levels of salt. Invest in a blender or processor so that you can easily make your own soups.
  6. Give unsalted or reduced-sodium pretzels, chips, peanuts and condiments a try.
  7. Instead of adding salt, add the zest (grated rind) and juice of a lemon to cooked vegetables to give them a bit of a lift.

Remember this salt information and these seven ways to reduce salt in your diet to help yourself be more aware and to help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke.

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