Where’s the sodium?
For most people, 65% of their sodium intake comes from processed or prepared foods purchased in retail stores, 25% from restaurants and 10% from home cooking and at the table.
Remove the Salt Shaker
You’ll be less likely to use it. Avoid using salt when cooking. Salt is the main source of sodium: 1 tsp. of table salt contains 2325mgs of sodium.
Read nutrition labels on foods and follow these guidelines:
- Select foods with 140 mgs of sodium or less per serving.
- Foods with more than 300 mgs of sodium per serving may not fit into your plan.
- Check serving sizes. If you eat more than 1 serving, you will get more sodium than the listed amount.
- Many foods naturally contain sodium and need to be accounted for when totaling your intake of sodium for the day. Don’t forget to include drinks and snacks!
Avoid Processed Foods:
- Canned foods: soups, stews, sauces, gravy mixes, and some vegetables
- Frozen foods: dinners, entrees, vegetables with sauces
- Snack foods: salted chips, popcorn, pretzels, pork rinds, and crackers
- Packaged starchy foods: seasoned noodle or rice dishes, stuffing mixes, macaroni and cheese dinners
- Instant cooking foods to which you add hot water and stir: such as potatoes, cereals, noodles, and rice
- Mixes: cornbread, biscuit, cake, pudding
- Meats: Deli or lunch meats such as salami (226mgs/slice), bologna, ham, turkey, and roast beef. Cured or smoked meats such as corned beef, sausage of any kind patty, link, Kielbasa, Italian, wieners or hot dogs, bacon (194mgs/slice), and beef jerky (443mgs/lg. piece). Canned meats such as potted meats, spreads, Spam, and Vienna sausage
- Cheeses: read labels and avoid cheeses with more than 140mgs sodium per serving- American cheese, Velveeta, and Cheez Whiz are among the highest.
Condiments, sauces, and seasonings:
- Mustard, ketchup, salad dressings, bouillon cubes (1200mgs) or granules
- Sauces: Worcestershire, barbecue, pizza, chili, steak, soy, or horseradish sauce * Meat tenderizer, monosodium glutamate (MSG)
- Yeast Extract Spread (Marmite) 216mgs/tsp.
- Pickles and olives (1556mgs/ 1/2cup)
- Sun Dried Tomatoes (1048mgs/cup)
- Any seasoning that has “salt” in the name or on the label: Avoid celery salt, garlic salt, and onion salt; however, it is okay to have garlic or onion powder or flakes
Cooking from scratch allows you to control the amount of sodium in your meals. Monitor these items in recipes as they tend to add up e.g., Baking soda 1368mgs/tsp., Baking powder 530mgs/tsp.
Be a smart shopper. Look for food packages that say “salt-free” or “sodium-free.” These items contain less than 5 milligrams of sodium per serving. “Low-sodium” products contain less than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving. “Unsalted” or “no added salt” products may still be high in sodium. Check the nutrition label.
Spice it up! Add flavor to your food without adding sodium.
Try lemon juice, lime juice, fruit juice, or vinegar.
To release more flavor and aroma, crumble dry leaf herbs — basil, bay leaf, oregano, savory, and others — between your fingers. Or finely chop fresh herbs just before using in recipes.
In dishes that cook for a long time, such as soups and stews, add herbs and spices toward the end of the cooking time. That way the flavor won’t cook out.
For chilled foods, such as salads and dips, add seasonings several hours ahead. That allows time for the flavors to blend.
When substituting fresh for dry herbs, 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs equals 1 teaspoon dried herb. Dry herbs are stronger than fresh; powdered herbs are stronger than crumbled herbs.
Some favorites used by many people are Mrs. Dash, curry powder, and cayenne or other hot pepper flavors.
Avoid using salt substitutes that are high in potassium. Using these products can lead to dangerously high levels of potassium that may cause problems with certain medicines used for heart failure.
Find a low-sodium cookbook or check the internet for low-sodium recipes and suggestions.
Buy a sodium-free seasoning blend or make your own at home.
Remember: A little bit of spice goes a long way! Be careful not to over season.
Spice Blend Recipe (makes about ⅓ cup)
- 5 teaspoons onion powder
- 2½ teaspoons garlic powder
- 2½ teaspoons paprika
- 2½ teaspoon dry mustard
- 1½ teaspoon crushed thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon celery seed