When it comes to dietary sodium, less is certainly best. Yet Americans today consume 50% more than the recommended daily quantity of only one teaspoon of salt per day. Diets high in sodium increase blood pressure levels. High blood pressure damages the kidneys over time, and is a leading cause of kidney failure. In recognition of National Kidney Month and World Kidney Day , the National Kidney Foundation offers the top 5 tips to reduce salt in your diet .
- Make reading food labels a habit. Sodium content is always listed on food labels. Sodium content can vary from brand to brand, so compare and choose the lowest sodium product. Certain foods don't taste particularly salty but are actually high in sodium, such as cottage cheese, so it's critical to check labels.
- Stick to fresh meats, fruits and vegetables rather than their packaged counterparts, which tend to be higher in sodium.
- Avoid spices and seasonings that contain added sodium, for example garlic salt. Choose garlic powder instead.
- Many restaurants list the sodium content of their products on their websites, so do your homework before dining out. Also, you can request that your food be prepared without any added salt.
- Wait it out. You can learn to adjust to eating less salt. It typically takes about six to eight weeks on a low-sodium diet to get used to it. After that, you'll actually find that some of your favorite salty foods, like potato chips, taste too salty to you.
"You can learn to adjust to eating less salt," says registered dietitian Linda Ulerich, member of NKF's Council on Renal Nutrition. "It typically takes about six to eight weeks on a low-sodium diet to get used to it. After that, you'll actually find that some of your favorite salty foods, like potato chips, taste too salty to you."