You've heard it over and over again - for about one-third of people, excess salt can contribute to high blood pressure, potentially leading to heart attacks and stroke.

The majority of people consume much more than the recommended limit of 2,300 mg of sodium per day, when in fact, your body only needs 1,200 mg to 1,500 mg per day to function healthily. If this isn't scary enough, learning that the majority of the salt you consume may be coming from unsuspecting foods is sure to put you into a panic. The good news is that there are many simple ways that you can cut down on your salt intake, starting today.

  • Replace salt with other tasty seasonings. Try adding flavour to your food with herbs and spices such as oregano, basil, thyme, or pepper. Garlic and lemon are also delicious options to boost taste.
  • Consume processed foods less often. An easy way to do this is to avoid buying anything in a can, box, or bag, as these often contain high amounts of salt. Fresh foods do not contain added salt and are lower in sodium than pre-packaged foods.
  • Read the nutrition labels. The nutrition facts will tell you the amount of sodium in the serving size indicated at the top of the table (read this number carefully as it is dependent on the indicated serving). It will also tell you the percentage of the daily value (%DV) of sodium it contains.
  • Choose low-sodium products. Many food products now offer a reduced or low sodium alternative.
  • Be aware of salt or sodium in disguise. There are other compounds that can increase the sodium content of food. These include monosodium glutamate (MSG), baking powder, baking soda, disodium phosphate, and sodium nitrate or nitrite. Read the ingredient label to determine if these compounds are included.
  • Remove or cut down the amount of salt in recipes. Cut the amount of salt called for by half and your taste buds won't even know the difference!
  • Ask for the nutrition facts when eating out. Nutrition information is often available on restaurant websites or can be given to you upon request. Use this information to choose meals that are lower in sodium.

Lisa Tourountzas