Salt – how to cut down

5 Easy Ways to Cut Back on Salt

Salt - how to cut down

From the WebMD Archives

Too much salt in the diet is a bad thing — or is it?

Most of us have long heard that it's best to go easy on the salt shaker. But a recent study has confused the issue somewhat.

In the study, published in the March 2006 American Journal of Medicine, people who reported eating limited salt were found to be 37% more ly to die of cardiovascular disease (conditions such as stroke and heart disease) than people who ate more salt. The researchers concluded that their findings raise questions, and that further studies are needed.

But, experts say, it's important to keep in mind that this is just one study, compared with scores of others that have found health benefits to avoiding a high-sodium diet.

According to the American Heart Association, 1,500 milligrams of sodium is the ideal daily goal for African-Americans, middle- and older-aged Americans, and people with high blood pressure. The rest should aim for less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day — the equivalent of about 1 teaspoon of salt.

New research shows that a high-salt diet may have a negative effect on our bodies' levels of vitamin D — a vitamin considered important to many aspects of health.

Older women who had high blood pressure caused by salt were found to have lower concentrations of a certain marker of vitamin D than women with normal blood pressure, Myrtle Thierry-Palmer, PhD, a biochemistry professor at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, tells WebMD.

There is also some evidence that a high-sodium intake increases calcium losses in the urine — which is bad news for bone density. Too much sodium may also contribute to the development of kidney stones.

And what about heart disease? Research has shown a connection between high-salt intake and an increase in blood pressure in certain people who are considered “salt sensitive.”

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. That's important information for the nearly one in three American adults who have high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

Studies have shown that cutting back on salt can lower blood pressure in people with and without high blood pressure, according to a statement from the AHA.

“Reduced salt intake can blunt the rise in blood pressure that occurs with age and reduce the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease events and congestive heart failure,” according to the January 2006 statement.

Here's something baby boomers need to know: People tend to become more sensitive to sodium as they get older. wise, their blood pressure is more ly to drop when they cut back on salt in their later years.

Further, sodium may increase the risk for stroke even beyond its affect on blood pressure, according to research reported at the 2005 American Stroke Association International Conference.

The risk of stroke was higher in people who ate more sodium, regardless of their blood pressure, reported researchers. Their results also showed that people who took in more than 4,000 milligrams of sodium a day almost doubled their stroke risk compared with those getting 2,400 milligrams or less.

The reason salt-sensitive people's blood pressure responds strongly to salt intake is through sodium's effect on blood volume. When you eat more salt, your blood pressure tends to rise and when you eat less salt, your blood pressure lowers.

What portion of the population is salt-sensitive? Some researchers have estimated that about a quarter of the American population with normal blood pressure is salt-sensitive, while about half of the people with high blood pressure seem to be salt-sensitive. The black population has demonstrated a greater susceptibility to salt sensitivity than the white population, adds Thierry-Palmer.

1. Pass Up Processed Foods

The Food Standards Agency of the United Kingdom estimates that 75% of salt intake comes from processed food. Some food companies are developing products with less sodium, so keep an eye out for sodium listed on food labels. Only small amounts of sodium occur naturally in foods, eating mostly natural, whole foods will help keep levels of sodium down.

2. Cut Back on Condiments

Always dress your sandwiches and burgers yourself. This way, you can not only control the amounts of condiments used, you can choose those that are lower in calories, fat, and sodium, such as:

  • Balsamic vinegar. 2 teaspoons has 14 calories, 0 grams fat, and 2 milligrams sodium
  • Mustard. 1 teaspoon has 10 calories, 0 grams fat, and 100 milligrams sodium
  • Pickle relish. 1 tablespoon has 21 calories, 0 grams fat, and 109 milligrams sodium
  • Horseradish. 2 teaspoons has 4 calories, 0 grams fat, and 10 milligrams sodium
  • Low-sodium light mayonnaise. 17 calories, 1.3 grams fat, and 27 milligrams sodium (the numbers may vary depending on brand).
  • Lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon). 8 calories, 0 grams fat, and 1 milligram sodium

Feel free to load on all the lettuce, tomato, and onion your heart desires. Each adds 5 calories or less per serving, and is mostly sodium-free.

3. Beware of Dressings and Sauces

If you think a little bit of dressing or sauce won't add that much sodium to your meal, think again. Take a gander at some of the dressing offered at the Jack in the Box fast-food restaurant:

Creamy Southwest Dressing (71-gram serving): 1,060 milligrams sodium
Bacon Ranch Dressing (71-gram serving): 810 milligrams sodium
Asian Sesame Dressing (71-gram serving): 780 milligrams sodium

4. Opt for Alternatives

Purchase a battery-operated pepper grinder and your favorite flavor of salt-free herb and spice blend ( Mrs. Dash). Then keep them front and center on your kitchen table to help you break the habit of salting your food.

5. Forgo Fast Food

Eating at fast-food chains may be fast and cheap, but you pay the price in calories, fat, and sodium. Many fast-food items are big on sodium. The following items, at a few top chains, topped the sodium scale:

Jack in the Box

  • Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger: 2,040 milligrams sodium
  • Chipotle Chicken Ciabatta with Grilled Chicken: 1,850 milligrams
  • Bruschetta Chicken Ciabatta Sandwich: 1,810 milligrams
  • Ciabatta Breakfast Sandwich: 1,770 milligrams
  • Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich: 1,700 milligrams
  • Bacon Cheese Ciabatta Burger: 1,670 milligrams
  • Chipotle Chicken Ciabatta with Spicy Crispy Chicken: 1,650 milligrams
  • Sausage, Egg, & Cheese Biscuit: 1,430 milligrams


  • Homestyle Chicken Strips (3) with dipping sauce: 1,690-1,890 milligrams sodium, depending on sauce
  • Frescata Club Sandwich: 1,610 milligrams
  • Frescata Italiana Sandwich: 1,530 milligrams
  • Roasted Turkey & Swiss Frescata Sandwich: 1,520 milligrams
  • Big Bacon Classic Sandwich: 1,510 milligrams


  • Deluxe Breakfast: 1,920 milligrams sodium
  • Premium Crispy Chicken Club Sandwich: 1,830 milligrams
  • Premium Crispy Chicken Ranch BLT Sandwich: 1,750 milligrams
  • Premium Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich: 1,690 milligrams
  • Big Breakfast: 1,470 milligrams
  • Sausage, Egg, & Cheese McGriddle: 1,300 milligrams

Published October 2006.

SOURCES: “Healthy Lifestyle Could Significantly Reduce High Blood Pressure,” American Stroke Association Journal Report, Jan. 24, 2006. American Heart Association scientific statement. Loria C.M. Journal of Nutrition 2001; vol 131: pp 536S-551S. Bihorac, A. American Journal of Hypertension, August 2000; vol 13: pp 864-872. Reusser, M.E.

Journal of Nutrition, April 2006; vol 136: pp 1099-1102. Thierry-Palmer M. Journal of Nutrition, January 2003; vol 133: pp 187-190. Falkner, B. Hypertension, 1990; vol 15: pp 36-43. Weinberger, MH. Hypertension, 1986; vol 8 (Suppl II): II: pp 127-34. Hillel W. Cohen, DrPH. American Journal of Medicine, March 2006; vol 119 : pp 275.e7-275.e14.

American Heart Association web site. Food Standards Agency web site. Jack in the Box web site. McDonald's web site. Wendy's web site. Food Processor nutritional analysis software, ESHA Research. WebMD Feature: “Beware of the Salt Shockers.” Myrtle Thierry-Palmer, PhD, professor of biochemistry, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta.

© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.


Tips for a lower salt diet

Salt - how to cut down
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If you have read up on salt facts, you'll know that too much salt can cause raised blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. The following tips can help you cut down on salt.

You don't have to add salt to your food to eat too much of it – around 75% of the salt we eat is already in everyday foods such as bread, breakfast cereal and ready meals.

Remember, whether you're eating at home, cooking or eating out, don't add salt to your food automatically – taste it first.

Many people add salt habit, but it's often unnecessary and your food will taste good without it

When shopping for food, you can take steps to cut your salt intake:

  • Compare nutrition labels on food packaging when buying everyday items. You can really cut your salt intake by checking the label and choosing the pizza, ketchup or breakfast cereal that's lower in salt. Try choosing 1 food a week to check and swap when you're food shopping.
  • Go for reduced-salt unsmoked back bacon. Cured meats and fish can be high in salt, so try to eat these less often.
  • Buy tinned vegetables without added salt. Do the same with tinned pulses.
  • Watch out for the salt content in ready-made pasta sauces. Tomato-based sauces are often lower in salt than cheesy sauces or those containing olives, bacon or ham.
  • For healthier snacks, choose fruit or vegetables such as carrot or celery sticks. If you are going to have crisps or crackers, check the label and choose the ones lower in salt. Don't forget to check the fat and sugars content, too.
  • Go easy on soy sauce, mustard, pickles, mayonnaise and other table sauces, as these can all be high in salt.

Many people add salt to food when they're cooking. But there are lots of ways to add flavour to your cooking without using any salt.

Check out these salt alternatives:

  • Use black pepper as seasoning instead of salt. Try it on pasta, scrambled egg, pizza, fish and soup.
  • Add fresh herbs and spices to pasta dishes, vegetables and meat. Try garlic, ginger, chilli and lime in stir fries.
  • Make your own stock and gravy instead of using cubes or granules, or look out for reduced-salt products.
  • Try baking or roasting vegetables such as red peppers, tomatoes, courgettes, fennel, parsnips and squash to bring out their flavour.
  • Make sauces using ripe tomatoes and garlic.

If you're eating in a restaurant or cafe, or ordering a takeaway, you can still eat less salt by making smart choices of lower-salt foods.

Pizza: choose vegetable or chicken toppings instead of pepperoni, bacon or extra cheese.

Pasta dishes: choose one with a tomato sauce with vegetables or chicken, rather than bacon, cheese or sausage.

Burgers: avoid toppings that can be high in salt, such as bacon, cheese and barbecue sauce, and opt for salad instead.

Chinese or Indian meal: go for plain rice. It's lower in salt than pilau or egg fried rice.

Sandwiches: instead of ham or cheddar cheese, go for fillings such as chicken, egg, mozzarella, or vegetables avocado or roasted peppers. And try having salad and reduced-fat mayonnaise instead of pickle or mustard, which are usually higher in salt.

Breakfast: instead of a full English breakfast, go for a poached egg on toast with mushrooms and grilled tomatoes. If you do have meat, have either bacon or a sausage, but not both.

Salad: ask for dressings or sauces on the side, so you only have as much as you need. Some dressings and sauces can be high in salt and fat.

You can learn more about salt and your diet in Salt: the facts.

If you routinely take a dissolvable (effervescent) vitamin supplement or effervescent painkillers, it's worth remembering that these can contain up to 1g of salt per tablet.

You may want to consider changing to a non-effervescent tablet, particularly if you have been advised to watch or reduce your salt intake.


10 tricks to reduce salt (sodium) in your diet – Harvard Health Blog – Harvard Health Publishing

Salt - how to cut down

The average adult eats about 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day — far more than the recommended daily goal of 2,300 mg. Here are the top 10 types of food that account for more than 40% of the sodium we eat each day, along with some ideas for simple swaps to help you eat less salt.

1. Breads and rolls

This category tops the list not because bread is especially salty (a slice contains about 100 to 200 mg of sodium), but because we eat so much of it.

Smart swaps: Instead of toast or a bagel for breakfast, have a bowl of oatmeal prepared with just a pinch of salt. Bypass the dinner breadbasket for a serving of whole grains, such as barley, brown rice, farro, or quinoa.

2. Pizza

All the essential pizza ingredients — the crust, sauce, and cheese — contain a lot of salt. Adding cured meats such as pepperoni or sausage adds even more sodium.

Smart swap: Make a homemade pizza using a whole-wheat, pre-baked pizza crust with low-sodium pizza sauce and slivers of part-skim mozzarella or other light cheese. Top with sliced bell peppers, mushrooms, or any other vegetables you . Bake at 450° until the cheese melts.

3. Sandwiches

pizza, most sandwiches contain salty ingredients (bread, cheese, and cold cuts and cured meats).

Smart swap: Load up your sandwich with veggies such as tomato, avocado, and lettuce. Skip the cheese and add hummus, or try peanut butter with sliced apple or banana.

4. Cold cuts and cured meats

These processed meats include bacon, ham, salami, sausage, hot dogs, and deli or luncheon meats. Not only are they high in sodium chloride (salt), they also contain sodium nitrate as a preservative, which further boosts the sodium count.

Smart swap: Cook your own fresh chicken or turkey breast to slice up for sandwiches.

5. Soups

Some varieties of canned soup have as much as 940 mg of sodium per serving.

Smart swap: Look for low- and lower-sodium varieties. Or make a large batch of homemade soup, adding just enough salt to taste, and freeze it in individual serving containers for convenience.

6. Burritos and tacos

pizza, these popular Mexican dishes combine a number of high-salt ingredients, such as white flour tortillas (an 8” diameter one contains about 400 mg of sodium), cheese, and seasoned, salty beans and meat.

Smart swaps: Use whole-grain corn tortillas (just 5 mg of sodium each) and fill with grilled chicken or a mild white fish. Choose low-sodium canned beans, and top burritos and tacos with chopped vegetables and salsa.

7. Savory snacks

This includes chips, popcorn, pretzels, snack mixes, and crackers.

Smart swap: Choose low- or reduced-sodium versions of these snack foods.

8. Chicken

This popular protein is often prepared in commercial kitchens, which means added salt. Rotisserie or fried chicken from a grocery store or restaurant contains up to four times the sodium of plain chicken prepared at home.

Smart swap: Bake or sauté plain chicken breasts seasoned with salt-free herb blends.

9. Cheese

The amount of sodium in cheese varies widely, even among the same varieties, so check the labels carefully. Feta and blue cheese are among the saltiest varieties, while goat cheese and ricotta are on the lower end.

Smart swap: Try low-sodium cheese, or substitute small amounts of finely grated, savory hard cheeses such as Parmesan or Romano as a replacement for other cheeses.

10. Eggs and omelets

An egg contains only 62 mg of sodium, so this category again reflects other ingredients and cooking methods. For example, most fast-food egg breakfast sandwiches are made with cheese and ham on an English muffin, and omelets are also often full of cheese, bacon, and ham.

Smart swap: Make your own poached or soft-cooked eggs. Many grocery stores now carry hard-boiled eggs, which are even more convenient.


Tips for cutting down on salt

Salt - how to cut down

Most people these days are aware that giving up smoking is possibly the most important thing to do if you want to prevent heart disease. But according to the World Health Organisation, eating less salt is just as important for heart health.

Eating too much salt can cause raised blood pressure, which is a major cause of cardiovascular disease and accounts for 62% of strokes and 49% of coronary heart disease. A diet that’s high in salt may also contribute to osteoporosis, stomach cancer, kidney disease, kidney stones and obesity, claims Consensus Action on Salt & Health (CASH).

Currently, adults are advised to eat less than 6g salt a day (1 teaspoon). But many are eating more and according to CASH, salt intake in UK adults is currently 8.1g per day.

If the average diet included 1g less salt, there would be more than 4,000 fewer deaths from strokes and heart attacks each year.

Better still, if we all stuck to the 6g intake target, a further 17,000 annual premature deaths could be prevented.

So what’s the best way to cut salt from your diet? Not adding salt to your food can help, but probably not as much as you’d think. That’s because 75% of the salt you eat is found in everyday foods such as bread, breakfast cereal and ready meals (according to CASH, bread provides about 17% of your salt intake, making it the largest contributor of salt in the UK diet).

Here are some tips to help reduce your salt intake:

Always check the label

Check the label and choose low-salt foods when food shopping. Look at the figure for salt per 100g: High is more than 1.5g salt per 100g (may be colour coded red); Low is 0.3g salt or less per 100g (may be colour-coded green); Medium is between 0.3g and 1.5g salt per 100g (may be colour-coded amber). Buy reduced-salt or no added salt items wherever possible.

Know your salt from your sodium

Some food labels state sodium levels rather than salt levels – and the two aren’t the same. One gram of sodium is approximately the equivalent of 2.5g of salt, so multiply the amount of sodium by 2.5 to get the amount of salt. Alternatively, check the level of sodium – less than 0.12g is low, 0.12 – 0.6g is medium and anything with more than 0.6g sodium is high.

Watch what you eat

Eat foods high in salt less often and in smaller amounts. Watch out for things condiments and sauces, as they can be high in salt. According to Blood Pressure UK, the following foods are the high-salt types you should avoid (or look for low-salt alternatives):

  • Tomato ketchup
  • Tinned, packet and chiller cabinet soups
  • Beef, chicken and vegetable stock cubes
  • Gravy granules
  • Soy sauce
  • Dried fish
  • Mustard
  • Pickles
  • Curry powders
  • Ready made sandwiches
  • Microwave and frozen ready meals
  • Breaded chicken products
  • Sausages
  • Bacon
  • Ham

Also, choose low-salt foods when eating out, such as pizzas with vegetable or chicken toppings; pasta dishes with tomato sauces; avoid bacon & cheese on burgers; go for plain rice with Chinese or Indian meals; and choose less salty fillings for sandwiches rather than ham and cheese.

Cook with less salt

When seasoning, add flavour by using black pepper, fresh herbs and spices; make your own stock and gravy instead of using cubes or granules; make sauces with fresh ingredients such as ripe tomatoes and garlic; bake or roast vegetables to bring out the natural flavour.

Don’t add unnecessary salt

Don't add salt to your food – taste it first. Many people add salt habit, but it's often unnecessary, and your food will taste good without it.

Be snack wise

Avoid salty snacks such as crisps and crackers; instead choose healthy snacks such as fruit and veg.

Looking for the healthy option? Go to our Your health matters website for everything you need to take care of your physical wellbeing. Eat well with nutrition tips and a cook along video. Move more with easy exercise tips and a personal training video. Learn to rest and relax with a simple yoga video.

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How to Reduce Sodium in Your Diet

Salt - how to cut down

“The Healthy Geezer” answers questions about health and aging in his weekly column.

In my last column, we discussed sodium in our diets. Today's column is devoted to tips about how to reduce our sodium intake.

High-sodium diets are linked to increased blood pressure and a greater risk for heart disease and stroke. Reducing the amount of sodium you consume can help lower blood pressure or prevent it from developing.

Diet experts recommend a daily consumption of less than 2,400 milligrams (mg), which is the amount of sodium in a teaspoon of table salt. If you have high blood pressure, your doctor may advise limiting yourself to 1,500 mg of sodium a day.

Table salt (sodium chloride) is not the only problem. The main sources of sodium in the average U.S. diet are: 5 percent added while cooking, 6 percent added while eating, 12 percent from natural sources and 77 percent from processed foods.

About 9 10 Americans consume too much sodium. Americans on average consume 3,436 mg sodium daily. How can you cut down?

When you buy prepared and packaged foods, read the “Nutritional Facts” panel for the amount of sodium. Some products also include sodium terms.

Here's what they mean: “sodium-free,” less than 5 mg per serving; “very low-sodium,” 35 mg or less per serving; “low-sodium” 140 mg or less per serving; “reduced sodium, “25 percent less sodium than usual; “lite or light in sodium,” 50 percent less sodium than the regular version; “unsalted,” “no salt added” or “without added salt,” contains only the sodium that's a natural part of the food.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that a food that claims to be “healthy” must not exceed 480 mg sodium. “Meal type” products must not exceed 600 mg sodium.

Here are more tips:

  • Decrease your use of salt gradually. As you use less salt, your preference for it diminishes.
  • Keep the salt shaker off the table.
  • Buy fresh, plain frozen, or canned “with no salt added” vegetables.
  • Use fresh poultry, fish, and lean meat, rather than canned or processed types.
  • Use herbs, spices, and salt-free seasoning blends.
  • Cook rice, pasta, and hot cereals without salt.
  • Cut back on flavored rice, frozen dinners, pizza, packaged mixes, canned soups and packaged salad dressings.
  • Rinse canned foods, such as tuna, to remove some sodium.
  • Select unsalted nuts or seeds, dried beans, peas and lentils.
  • Limit salty snacks chips and pretzels.
  • Add fresh lemon juice instead of salt to fish and vegetables.
  • When eating out, ask your server about reducing sodium in your meal.
  • Remove salt from recipes whenever possible.
  • Cut down on sodium-rich condiments such as soy sauce, ketchup, mustard and relish.

If you would to read more columns, you can order a copy of “How to be a Healthy Geezer” at

All rights reserved © 2012 by Fred Cicetti


Ways to cut down on salt

Salt - how to cut down

When you regularly eat salty foods, you can develop a taste for it. This is especially important for children, whose tastes are being trained for life.

The good news is you don’t have to cut out salt all at once. If you reduce gradually, your tastebuds will adjust in only a few weeks.

You’ll be surprised by how quickly you get used to the taste and notice all the other flavours that salt was hiding. You’ll find you don’t enjoy salty foods you used to, and it’s a great chance to experiment with different flavours.

Foods with less than 120 mg sodium per 100 g are considered low in salt. Aim for foods with less than 400 mg per 100 g of product.

Check the food label

Check salt content on food labels. Use the nutrition panel on the back of the pack to find out how much salt is in a food product. Salt is listed as ‘sodium’. Use the ‘per 100 g’ column on the nutrition information panel to compare sodium of different brands of products.

  • Foods with less than 120 mg sodium per 100 g are considered low in salt.
  • Aim for foods with less than 400 mg per 100 g of product.

Reducing your salt intake can be as easy as switching brands. Look for foods labelled 'no added salt' or 'salt reduced'. Use the ‘per 100g’ column of the nutrition information panel to choose lower sodium products.

Read more about using food labels.

Switch brands

Reducing your salt intake can be as easy as switching brands. Look for foods labelled 'no added salt' or 'salt reduced'. Use the ‘per 100g’ column of the nutrition information panel to choose lower sodium products or foods with a higher Health Star Rating as these will be a healthier choice compared with similar foods. 

Stick to fresh foods where possible

Include a wide variety of fruit and vegetables, plain meat, poultry and fish, plain unsalted nuts and legumes and lentils in your diet. Try adding healthier options to your lunch box such as boiled eggs and salad, raw vegetable sticks with a reduced salt dip and fresh fruit pieces.

Salty foods

High levels of salt are often added to foods such as packet soups and sauces, pies, sausage rolls, sausages, processed meat, pizzas and frozen meals. So reduce the amount of these foods you eat. Try to limit takeaway and fast foods such as burgers, fried chicken and pizza.

Limiting salty snacks chips, pretzels, crackers and dips, will also help cut down salt. Make healthy snacks convenient by having fresh fruit pre-chopped, keeping reduced fat yoghurt in the fridge, and unsalted nuts in the pantry.

Also keep in mind that if you eat a few salty foods over your day, it’s easy to find yourself over the recommended intake. For example, salt is found in bread, cheese and processed meats, which means a regular ham and cheese sandwich can pack a sodium punch. 

Stock cubes, soy sauce, Asian-style sauces and condiments tomato sauce and mayonnaise can all contribute to salt intake over the day. Choosing fresh foods, and lower salt versions of your favourite products all helps to lower the amount of salt you’re eating.

Common questions about salt.

You can easily get your daily requirements from the natural salts found in fresh foods. There is no need to add salt when cooking at home or at the dinner table. Rather than adding salt when you cook, use lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, or herbs and spices. Marinate fish and meat before cooking to give it more flavour.

Using these simple steps you can also naturally eat less salt, sugar and bad fats.