Be Heart Smart

What I should know about sodium and how it can hurt my health? You might be getting more sodium than you need, and you never picked up the saltshaker. According to the American Heart Association, more than 70 percent of the sodium we eat comes from packaged and restaurant foods. That can make it hard for us to control our sodium intake because it is added to our food before we buy it. I know too much sodium is bad for my health, but what can I do to cut back?

The following are ways to reduce your sodium when shopping:

  • When shopping, carefully choose packaged and prepared foods. Choose products with the lowest amount of sodium per serving by comparing food labels. Do not be surprised that different brands of the same food can have different sodium levels.
  • Pick fresh and frozen meats that have not been seasoned.
  • Select condiments that are reduced or lower-sodium versions.
  • Purchase canned vegetables labeled “no salt added” and frozen vegetables without salty sauces.
  • Shop for products with the American Heart Association’s Heart Checkmark for foods that are part of an overall healthy dietary pattern. The Heart-Check mark does not mean that a product is “low-sodium,” but it does mean that the food meets the American Heart Association’s sodium criteria to earn the Heart-Check mark. Inquire more information about the Heart-Check Food certification program, by visiting

Try following these tips when preparing foods while trying to limit sodium intake.

  • Use fresh or dried onions, garlic, and herb spices in place of some or all the salt to add flavor.
  • Rinse and drain your canned vegetables before use.
  • If you do not like the taste of lower-sodium vegetables, try combining them with regular versions, until you acquire the taste.
  • Cook your rice, pasta, and hot cereals without salt.
  • Grilling, braising, roasting, searing, and sautéing brings out natural flavors without having to add salt.

When eating out, make sure you tell them to omit the extra salt. Always, taste your food before adding salt. If you think it needs a boost of flavor, add freshly ground black pepper or squeeze fresh lemon or lime instead of salt. When ordering, foods that are listed as pickled, barbecued, cured, smoked, broth, soy sauce, or teriyaki sauce tend to be higher in sodium. Foods that are steamed, baked, grilled, poached, or roasted are normally lower in sodium. If you are hungry for more information about eating less salt, check out cookbooks and recipes from the American Heart Association. You will learn how to monitor the sodium you eat, reduce the high-sodium products in your kitchen, understand food labels, know which foods are salt traps, and learn to keep sodium in check while eating out, and plan lower-sodium weekly menus without losing the great taste.

This article is written by Markaye Russell, Area Nutrition Agent, Ouachita, and Union Parishes. This article is referenced by LSU AgCenter and the American Heart Association.

10/13/2021 3:29:16 PM
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