Too much salt can cause high blood pressure and lead to heart disease.
The average American gets about 3.4 grams of sodium every day, far more than the 2.3 grams recommended by the USDA or the 1.5 grams recommended by the American Heart Association. The institute of Medicine estimates that reducing sodium intake nationwide could prevent 100,000 deaths every year. Cutting back on salt might take a little getting used to, but your health is worth it.
AARP recommends these sodium-cutting tips:
• Introduce additional flavor to your foods with herbs and spices like garlic, oregano, basil, pepper, thyme and sesame. These all add flavor without extra sodium.
• Read the sodium content on nutrition labels, and make sure you check serving size.
• Products that are low fat or low in sugar often add extra salt to enhance the flavor. Check the label.
• Avoid these surprisingly salty foods: Bottled spaghetti sauce, canned beef stew, boxed macaroni and cheese, prepared pancake and waffle mix, prepared cheese sauce, frozen dinners.
• Switch to sea salt or kosher salt. Although they contain the same amount of sodium by weight as regular table salt, people tend to use less because the grains are bigger and deliver a bigger punch to your taste buds.
• Choose fresh or frozen veggies over canned varieties, which often contain added salt to help shelf life.
• Olives, pickles and other items packed in brine are saturated in salt, as are many smoked and cured meats like salami and bologna.