Under the guidelines released Monday, about half of the populace should consume 1,500 milligrams of sodium or less each day. That includes children, African-Americans and anyone who is older than 50 or has hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. Everyone else may consume up to 2,300 milligrams, about a teaspoon.
If you're unsure how to go about cutting back on the sodium, I've got some tips to help you get started.
Ready to see them?
- Be wary of canned foods. If you do buy them, look for a lower sodium option.
- Cook with raw foods. Fresh vegetables and meats will have much lower levels of sodium than their canned alternatives.
- Stock your spice rack and herb drawer with low- or no-sodium choices that will add flavor but not sodium.
- When buying canned foods, rinse the food if possible (i.e. black beans, corn, etc.).
- Take it easy with the hot sauce and other condiments. It's a sneaky way to spike the sodium levels of your food.
- If eating out at a restaurant, ask the waiter to take the salt shaker away from the table so you won't be tempted to add it to your meal.
- Plant an herb garden in your kitchen so you can reach for mint, parsley, dill, or cilantro when you need some flavor.
- Sip on low-sodium drinks or water! Sodas and sports drinks can pack a mean punch of sodium.
- Don't add salt to your boiling water when cooking up pasta, rice, or meats. You can add natural flavors to the sauce later.
When all else fails, read the labels and keep track of your intake. Remember, only a teaspoon (or less!) a day will hopefully keep the diabetes and high blood pressure away.
For more, check out the Dietary Guidelines.