Experts tell us to reduce salt (sodium) so that our heart and blood vessels are healthier. Since many of us are used to eating food with lots of added salt this advice often goes unheeded. Here are some simple and practical tips to get you started:
- Go slow! Don’t start out with an “all or nothing” approach. Reduce your salt intake gradually. My personal experience with eating low-sodium foods was when my father was diagnosed with high blood pressure. This meant the whole family had to change our eating habits. After a period of time, we got used to it. Now when I eat something very salty, it isn’t enjoyable.
- Look for lower salt alternatives when buying processed food like tomato sauce. Use herbs and spices instead of salt to enhance the flavor of your food. You can also lower the salt in some processed food like canned beans by draining and rinsing before using.
- Choose and prepare fresh foods for yourself. Often, the more a food is processed, the more sodium it will contain (unless it is made with less or no salt). Instead of buying pre-cooked chicken breast with seasonings added, cook your own. If you prepare it yourself, you will have control over what goes in it.
Visit the MissouriFamilies website to learn more about how decreasing your salt intake can decrease your blood pressure.
Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, firstname.lastname@example.org, 573-882-1933