Monitor your sodium intake
The human body needs sodium to work, but most people get more sodium than they need. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports Americans over the age of 2 consume 3,436 mg of sodium each day, 77 percent of which comes from packaged, processed, store-bought and restaurant foods.
U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend sodium intake be limited to 2,300 mg, or about 1 teaspoon of salt per day. The American Heart Association and the CDC suggests even less--about one-half teaspoon per day.
To lower your sodium intake, start by decreasing it by 500 mg at a time until you reach the recommended range. Studies have shown that the less sodium you consume the less your taste buds crave it.
Here are some tips to reduce sodium intake:
--Read the nutrition facts panel on food labels. Try to select foods that provide 5 percent or less of sodium per serving.
--Try salt-free products, herbs or spices to add flavor to food without increasing sodium content.
--Look for labels that say, "no salt added," "reduced salt" or "low or reduced sodium."
--Eat fresh meats rather than cured or processed meats.
--Cut back on instant flavored rice, pasta and cereal mixes.
--Eat less food from restaurants.
--Reduce the use of convenience-type foods.
--Limit the use of table salt.