Sodium contained in common salt is necessary for the functioning of the human body but modern lifestyles and food habits dominated with packaged and processed foods mean most of us consume far more than necessary. The results of eating too much salt are evident all around us. It is associated with increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, stomach cancer and fluid retention.
So clearly there is a need to lower intake of salt and therefore sodium, and here are natural ways to lower sodium intake that could help:
1. Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts and keep these in greater proportion in your diet.
If you are using canned beans of vegetables, firstly drain the liquid (which is usually loaded with salt because it is a natural preservative) and then rinse the food in plain water before eating. This will help remove unnecessary salt.
2. Instead of using salt for seasoning your food, salads and so on, use fresh or dried herbs (look for ones that have no added salt), or use lemon, lime or vinegar. This offers taste and flavor without the added salt.
3. Look for packaged foods with reduced salt, and read ingredient labels carefully to make informed choices when buying them.
4. Be careful when eating out as well. Avoid fast food restaurants because they are notorious for adding large quantities of salt to their food.
When ordering, ask that your choice of dish be prepared with less or no salt; explain to your server that you are on a low sodium diet.
In fact many consumers would like better disclosure on menus, about the amount of salt contained in the dishes listed.
At restaurants we have no way of knowing how much sodium we tend to consume and people are calling upon the government to make it mandatory for restaurant chains to state how much salt each dish contains.
5. Look out for salt laden foods. Frozen dinners or TV dinners are a well known culprit when it comes to excess salt. Cereals are another source of sodium that we tend to underestimate so read the labels of ready to eat cereals carefully.
Packaged sauces, dressings and ketchup are another source of sodium that we may discount. Then of course there are snacks such as chips, pretzels and so on that are simply doused with the stuff, even when they are labeled as “healthy”, “fat free”, “baked” and so on.