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Eat Healthier: 4 Smart Food Moves

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Shake the Salt

Nine in 10 Americans will develop high blood pressure unless they curb the risk factors right now, including dropping excess weight and cutting back on salt. A high sodium intake also promotes bloating and may raise your risk of osteoporosis by increasing calcium depletion. Aim to reduce your consumption to no more than 2,300 milligrams a day.

Slowly Shift Your Palate

Reduce your overall intake a little at a time and in a few weeks your taste buds won't even notice. Start by switching to coarse or kosher salt -- the larger grains help you use less without sacrificing flavor. Next, take it off the table entirely at meals. "Sprinkle a hefty amount of herbs and spices onto dishes to enhance the taste so that you won't need as much, if any, salt," says Newgent. Or keep a bottle of hot sauce or balsamic vinegar on the table -- they brighten the flavors in low-fat or unsalted dishes.

Be a Label Queen

You can't always trust your taste buds; many foods that don't taste salty are still high in sodium. Choose only packaged foods that contain 200 mg or less of sodium per serving (600 mg or less for frozen dinners that will make up your entire meal). Some of the biggest offenders: soups, sauces, and cold cuts. Canned goods like tuna, beans, and veggies are also salt traps. Draining, rinsing and/or boiling the contents can remove 33 to 80 percent of the sodium.

Order Wisely

From fast food to five-star restaurants, the fare has one thing in common: loads of salt. Steer clear of processed meats like bacon, sausage, and pastrami, as well as certain cuisines, namely Chinese (soy sauce has over 1,000 mg per tablespoon!). Even an otherwise healthy Subway turkey sandwich can pack more than 1,000 mg of sodium; reduce your total by removing half the meat. At any deli, ask for sliced cucumbers instead of a pickle on the side; you'll slash more than 1,000 mg from your meal, says Young.

Originally published in, September 2006.


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