Tame Your Salt Habit

Some fast food meals you can order with a burger, French fries, and soft drink can contain 1,500 mg of sodium. And that's a lot. The American Heart Association recommends that people consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day for heart health. But most people get 3,500 mg of sodium or day from the foods they eat.

When your diet includes too much sodium, you increase your risk for high blood pressure, a heart attack, stroke, and other chronic diseases. No wonder 1 in 3 adults in the United States have high blood pressure, and heart disease is the leading cause of death.

What's interesting is that high blood pressure is almost entirely preventable by making better food choices. How much sodium are you getting from the foods you eat? If you don't know, take a closer look at your diet, and keep track of how much sodium you consume. You'll find the amount of sodium in the food you eat on the Nutrition Facts Panel on most packages. Many books, mobile apps, and online tools are also available that you can use to look up sodium content and nutritional information for packaged foods, fresh foods, and restaurant meals.

If you're overloading on sodium, you're probably eating too many processed foods like frozen pizza, canned soup, pretzels and potato chips. And if you need to cut back on sodium (most of us do) and tame your salt habit, here are some things that can help:

1. Read food labels and pay attention to sodium amounts per serving.

2. Buy fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables and make them part of your meals and snacks.

3. Add more whole grains, legumes, and unsalted nuts and seeds to your diet.

3. Use salt-free spices and herbs for cooking and seasoning food.

4. Avoid adding salt to rice, pasta, and hot cereal.

If your diet currently includes a high level of sodium, the best approach to be successful is to gradually cut back on the amount of sodium you consume. A good way to cut back on the amount of salt in your diet is to pick your meals from the list Low-Sodium Meals by MagicKitchen.com. Take this approach to eating healthier and your taste buds will adjust, you'll experience fewer cravings for salty foods, and you'll lower your risk for high blood pressure.