High blood pressure can make your heart work too hard and contribute to atherosclerosis, which is the narrowing and hardening of the arteries. Cutting down your salt intake can significantly reduce your risk for hypertension and heart disease.
You can try these steps to slash your salt (sodium) intake:
1. It’s important to know your sodium “budget”!
To maintain ideal heart health- WHO recommends a daily intake of less than 2,000 milligrams (mg), which is the amount of sodium present in just under a teaspoon of table salt. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may recommend you take a lower intake of 1500 mg of sodium per day.
So that’s a good daily ‘budget’ to keep in mind while you’re gearing- up to lower the levels of sodium in your food.
You can consult your doctor if you would want to know your personal allowance.
2. Use your sodium " allowance" wisely.
Many foods -- grains, meat, fish, vegetables and fruits naturally contain small amounts of sodium, while highly processed foods tend to contain large amounts. Instead of using your sodium allowance on salty snacks and processed foods, use lesser amounts of salt to enhance the flavour of your dishes while cooking.
3. Make smarter choices while grocery shopping.
When you are buying your groceries, identify the amount of sodium contained in the foods by checking the product label. Stick to fresh foods as far as possible, over processed ones or look for options with lower sodium. Processed foods are more likely to be in higher sodium.
4. Cook with less salt.
Avoid adding salt to any food at the start, but rather add it close to the end of cooking time or to the cooked vegetables and use as little salt in cooking as possible. You can cut down at least half the salt from most of your dishes.
While you start cooking with less salt, over a period, you'll find that your taste-buds will get used to it.
5. Flavour your food.
Salt isn’t the only flavour enhancer! Fresh or dried herbs, a splash of vinegar, lemon juice or a homemade marinade can enhance flavours in the same way as salt.
6. Be mindful of the salt content while eating out.
Many restaurants serve huge portions. Choose smaller portions. You can also split entrees to get a smaller portion. If you are dining alone, find the lower-sodium choices.