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Easy low-sodium substitutes for cooking

Mary Fetzer is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with a marketing degree from Penn State University and 15 years of international business experience. Mary specializes in writing about parenting, children, pregnancy, college, h...

Put down that
salt shaker

Consuming less sodium helps promote a healthy heart. Take control of your family's sodium intake by making good shopping, cooking and eating choices.
Woman cooking with herbs

How much sodium do you consume each day?

The recommended daily allowance for sodium is 1,500 milligrams. Guess how much the average American adult actually eats?

  • A) 1,800 mg
  • B) 2,500 mg
  • C) 3,400 mg

C. Americans have developed a salty palate, and as a result, are consuming more than twice the recommended daily amount of sodium. The American Heart Association has kicked off the Sodium Swap Challenge, which advocates that reducing sodium intake over a three-week period will drastically change our sodium palate.

Not only will we enjoy foods with less sodium, but we'll find our faces less puffy and our jeans less tight. The American Heart Association (AHA) has a plan for your next 21 days:Change your salty ways

Shop with sodium on the brain

You can't reduce your sodium intake until you know how much sodium your foods contain. When shopping, the following tips will help:

  • Read. Before you place a single item in your shopping cart, review the label. With the 1,500 milligrams per day number in your head, keep a mental tally of how much sodium your next meal will contain.
  • Buy fresh. Whenever possible, choose fresh produce over packaged. That goes for veggies, fruits and meats.
  • Choose low-sodium options. Look for low-sodium versions of foods that are prepackaged, frozen, jarred or canned — even if you have to switch brands.
  • Look for the Heart Check sign. The AHA's Heart Check Certification logo lets you know you're buying a healthy product for your family.

Take control when cooking

As the cook, you wield power over your family's sodium intake. A little change here and there can make a big difference.

  • Rinse canned foods before using.
  • Omit the salt when you boil water for pasta or rice.
  • Toss the flavor packets that come with instant and prepared foods and make your own seasoning instead.

Season smarter

spices

Your family may be craving salt while their palates are adjusting. Resist the urge to pick up the salt shaker; instead, flavor their favorite foods.

  • On sandwiches, replace salty pickles and olives with fresh, crisp vegetables.
  • When a recipe calls for salt, add fresh herbs and salt-free spices instead.
  • Season meats with garlic, peppers, mushrooms, onions and other fresh vegetable flavors.
  • Dress your salads with oil and vinegar or lemon juice instead of salty, bottled dressings.
  • Skip the ketchup and barbeque sauce and opt for cider vinegar or citrus-infused oils.

Avoid the Salty Six

You know that french fries and peanuts are salty, but did you know these common, everyday foods are high in sodium as well?

The salty six

More healthy-heart help

5 Things to do today to strengthen your heart
6 Super foods for your heart
Test your sodium IQ

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