Healthy Tips for Low-Sodium Cooking

Follow this quick checklist of sodium-slashing food-prep ideas every time you make a meal and you could be enjoying better blood pressure before you know it. These tips are based on recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the National Institutes of Health; and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Step 1: Read, read, read.

Check all labels before food preparation so you know how much sodium you’re starting with.

  • Try to stay below the RealAge-recommended limit of 1,500 milligrams per day.
  • Always buy the low-sodium versions of prepackaged, frozen, canned, or jarred foods and sauces.
  • Opt for fresh veggies over canned.
  • Make things from scratch when you can, to control the sodium content.

Step 2: Reduce, reduce, reduce.

How many ways can you cut the sodium from your food?

  • Rinse canned foods before using.
  • Don’t add salt to the water when you boil pasta or rice.
  • Ditch the flavor packets that come with instant or prepared foods, and do your own seasoning.
  • Choose fresh whole cuts of meat or fish over processed, pressed, cured, or canned.

Step 3: Season, season, season.

Get creative with fresh flavors so you won’t feel tempted to grab the saltshaker.

  • Choose fresh herbs and salt-free spices instead of salt.
  • Use herb- or citrus-infused oils, avocado mash, or malt or cider vinegars instead of salty condiments like barbecue sauce, ketchup, and soy sauce.
  • Try oil with red wine vinegar or lemon juice instead of salty salad dressings.
  • Season lean animal protein and veggies with onions, mushrooms, garlic, peppers, and other fresh, savory flavors.
  • Stuff fresh, crunchy veggies into sandwiches or wraps, instead of pickles or olives.