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How to Reduce Your Salt Intake and Why It Matters

Salt, or sodium chloride, is an essential mineral that helps regulate fluid balance, blood pressure, and nerve and muscle function in the body. However, too much salt can have negative effects on your health, such as increasing your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and stomach cancer.

The recommended daily intake of salt for adults is no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg), which is equivalent to about one teaspoon. However, most people consume much more than that, averaging about 3,400 mg per day. The main sources of salt in our diet are processed and packaged foods, such as bread, cheese, pizza, soups, snacks, and sauces, as well as restaurant and takeout meals.

Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce your salt intake and enjoy a healthier and more flavorful diet. Here are some tips to help you cut down on salt and improve your well-being.

Tip 1: Read Food Labels

One of the easiest ways to reduce your salt intake is to read the nutrition facts labels on the foods you buy and choose lower-sodium options. The labels will tell you how much sodium is in one serving of the product, as well as the percentage of the daily value (%DV) based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Aim for foods that have less than 5% DV of sodium per serving and avoid foods that have more than 20% DV of sodium per serving.

You can also compare different brands and varieties of the same food and choose the ones that have less sodium. For example, some canned soups can have as much as 940 mg of sodium per serving, while others can have as little as 140 mg of sodium per serving. Similarly, some breads can have up to 200 mg of sodium per slice, while others can have only 100 mg of sodium per slice.

Tip 2: Buy Fresh Foods

Another way to reduce your salt intake is to buy more fresh foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products, and limit your consumption of processed and packaged foods, which tend to be high in salt and other additives. Fresh foods are not only lower in sodium, but also higher in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, which can benefit your health in many ways.

When buying fresh foods, look for those that are in season and locally available, as they are usually cheaper and tastier than those that are imported or out of season. You can also visit farmers’ markets, where you can find a variety of fresh and organic produce, as well as support local farmers and communities.

Tip 3: Cook Your Own Meals

Cooking your own meals at home is another effective way to reduce your salt intake, as you have more control over the ingredients and the amount of salt you use. You can also experiment with different recipes and cuisines that use less salt and more herbs, spices, and other natural flavorings, such as garlic, onion, lemon, vinegar, ginger, turmeric, cumin, paprika, basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.

Some examples of low-salt dishes that you can make at home are:

  • Oatmeal with fresh or dried fruits and nuts
  • Scrambled eggs with spinach and cheese
  • Chicken salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and yogurt dressing
  • Grilled salmon with roasted vegetables and brown rice
  • Vegetable stir-fry with tofu and soy sauce
  • Homemade pizza with whole-wheat crust, low-sodium sauce, cheese, and vegetables
  • Spaghetti with turkey meatballs and tomato sauce
  • Bean and cheese burrito with whole-grain tortilla, salsa, and guacamole
  • Lentil soup with carrots, celery, and bay leaves
  • Fruit salad with yogurt and honey

Tip 4: Put Away the Salt Shaker

Putting away the salt shaker from your table and kitchen is another simple way to reduce your salt intake, as you will be less tempted to add extra salt to your food. Instead of salting your food before tasting it, try to enjoy the natural flavors of the ingredients, or add some of the herbs, spices, and other flavorings mentioned above.

You can also replace your salt shaker with a shaker of salt-free seasoning blends, which are available in most grocery stores and online. These blends contain a variety of herbs and spices that can enhance the taste of your food without adding any sodium. Some examples of salt-free seasoning blends are:

  • Mrs. Dash
  • Spike
  • Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
  • McCormick Perfect Pinch
  • Penzeys Spices

Tip 5: Eat Out Less Often

Eating out less often is another way to reduce your salt intake, as restaurant and takeout meals tend to be very high in sodium, as well as calories, fat, and sugar. A single meal at a fast-food or casual-dining restaurant can have more than 2,000 mg of sodium, which is almost the entire daily limit.

If you do eat out, try to choose healthier options, such as salads, grilled or steamed dishes, and lean meats, and ask for sauces and dressings on the side. You can also ask the staff to prepare your food with less or no salt, or to provide you with nutrition information so that you can make informed choices. Another option is to share your meal with a friend or family member, or to take half of it home for later.

Tip 6: Drink More Water

Drinking more water is another way to reduce your salt intake, as water helps flush out excess sodium from your body and prevent dehydration, which can cause your body to retain more salt. Water also helps you feel full and reduce your appetite, which can prevent you from overeating salty foods.

Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day, or more if you exercise, sweat, or live in a hot climate. You can also drink other fluids, such as herbal teas, fruit juices, and low-fat milk, but avoid drinks that are high in sodium, such as sports drinks, sodas, and alcoholic beverages.


Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about salt and sodium.

Q: What is the difference between salt and sodium?

A: Salt is a compound made of sodium and chloride, two minerals that are essential for life. Sodium is the part of salt that affects blood pressure and fluid balance in the body. One gram of salt contains about 400 mg of sodium. Therefore, to convert salt to sodium, you need to multiply by 0.4. For example, 2,300 mg of salt is equivalent to 920 mg of sodium.

Q: How can I tell if a food is high in sodium?

A: A food is considered high in sodium if it has more than 300 mg of sodium per 100 grams of food, or more than 20% DV of sodium per serving. You can check the nutrition facts label on the food package to find out how much sodium it contains. You can also look for words on the ingredient list that indicate the presence of sodium, such as salt, sodium, soda, baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, sodium benzoate, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and soy sauce.

Q: What are some foods that are low in sodium?

A: Some foods that are low in sodium are fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh or frozen meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, unsalted nuts and seeds, plain yogurt and cheese, whole grains, such as oats, barley, quinoa, and brown rice, and herbs and spices.

Q: What are some health benefits of reducing salt intake?

A: Some health benefits of reducing salt intake are:

  • Lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease
  • Preventing or relieving fluid retention and swelling in your legs, feet, and hands
  • Reducing your risk of stomach cancer and osteoporosis
  • Improving your taste buds and enjoying more flavors from your food
  • Saving money by buying less processed and packaged foods and eating out less often


Reducing your salt intake is one of the best things you can do for your health and well-being. By following the tips in this blog post, you can easily cut down on salt and enjoy a more varied and nutritious diet. Remember, a little salt goes a long way, and less is more when it comes to your health.

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