5 easy ways to reduce sodium intake

Too much sodium is one of America's biggest nutrition problems. The good news: You can cut back with these 5 simple steps.

1. Recognize hidden salt mines.

Lunch meats, many breads and baked goods (pita, corn tortillas), soba and Chinese noodles, many cheeses (cottage, American), tomato juice and spaghetti sauce, instant oatmeal, and cocoa mixes are some of the most common.

2. Be a savvy label reader.

“Reduced” means 25 percent less than normal; “light” means 50 percent less; “low” means no more than 140 mg per serving; “very low” means 35 mg or less; and “sodium free” means less than 5 mg. When checking the Nutrition Facts panel, look for no more than 5 percent of the Daily Value of sodium per serving, or 115 mg for adults.

3. Seek out low-sodium versions

Choose unsalted butter and reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce, soups, ketchup, salad dressings, and other packaged foods.

4. Eat more potassium.

Orange-colored fruits and vegetables from apricots to acorn squash, bananas, artichokes, bok choy, spinach, Swiss chard, potatoes with skins on, and other potassium-rich foods can help counteract the adverse effects of sodium.

5. Order smart.

Ask the waiter if your meal can be made with less salt, or get sauces on the side. Choose grilled meat rather than fried or breaded. Go easy on sodium-heavy condiments for your burger. Ditto with salad dressing, and skip the croutons. When cooking at home, use lemon juice, garlic, and fresh herbs to flavor your meals.

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