Salt and stroke are not a friendly pair as excessive salt in the diet can lead to high blood pressure, a serious precursor to stroke. This means that managing sodium levels after a stroke is an important step to take, especially if you’ve been consuming too much. The average American consumes 3,400 mg of sodium a day, which is about 50% more than the FDA recommended daily limit of 2,300 mg! Yikes.
But before you start scaling back the hard way, read these 6 easy tips on how to reduce sodium intake.
1. Cook at Home
Home cooked meals are the best way to stay in control of your nutrient intake. According to the FDA, over 75% of your dietary sodium comes from packaged and restaurant food! So by cooking at home, you can avoid excessive salt and have 100% control over the sodium in your food.
The easy solution: Learn to love Mrs. Dash seasonings! They’re a salt-free line of seasonings that taste just as good as their salty alternative – some even say they’re better. We know, it’s hard to believe, but you’ll just have to try it for yourself.
2. Become Sodium Savvy
The packaged food world is full of tricky obstacles. Sometimes we think we’re being healthy by eating ‘reduced sodium’ foods but sometimes we end up doing the opposite.
The easy solution: Learn to love labels. Here’s a guide from the FDA to help you out:
- Salt/Sodium-Free: Less than 5 mg of sodium per serving
- Very Low Sodium: 35 mg of sodium or less per serving
- Low Sodium: 140 mg of sodium or less per serving
- Reduced Sodium: At least 25% less sodium than in the original product
- Light in Sodium or Lightly Salted: At least 50% less sodium than the regular product
- No-Salt-Added or Unsalted: No salt is added during processing, but not necessarily sodium-free. Don’t be fooled! Check the Nutrition Facts Label to be sure!
3. Forget Frozen Foods
Frozen meals are one of the most common sources of excessive sodium in the diet. Because salt acts as a preservative, most companies use extra salt to give their packaged food extra shelf-life. But what about our life?
The easy solution: Prepare low-sodium meals in large batches and then freeze them in individual containers. Wa-lah! Homemade frozen dinners!
4. Kick the Can
Canned food is easy, convenient, and dangerously salty. Some people are aware of how much sodium canned soup has (way too much, if you were curious), but canned tomato sauce and most other sauces contain jaw-dropping amounts of salt too.
The easy solution: If you can’t avoid them completely, be sure to rinse the contents of your canned food with water. According to the Journal of Culinary Science and Technology, rinsing canned beans results in a 41% sodium reduction. Just by adding one simple step!
5. Bump Up the Fruits and Veggies
Fresh fruits and vegetables are naturally very low in sodium, so swapping salty, processed food for fresh produce is an excellent choice.
The easy solution: When fresh produce is out of reach, frozen fruits and veggies are an excellent option. In fact, frozen fruits are nutritionally comparable to fresh fruits, so bring on the smoothies!
6. Beware of Breakfast!
When we grow up on certain foods, we seldom think to check the label when we’re in the habit of just… eating. But remember to always check the nutrition panel! Especially at breakfast time. Check out these 5 common breakfast foods that all contain a surprising amount of salt: coffee drinks, cereal, frozen waffles, muffins, and bagels. Did any of those surprise you?
The easy solution: Try cutting your serving in half to slash the sodium by 50%. Sometimes we need to indulge in a little salty treat, so pay extra attention to your sodium intake on days where you want to budget in a little salty splurge.
And with these 6 tips, you’ll be on your way to a healthier, stroke-preventative diet in no time. How do you manage your sodium levels? Leave us a comment below to share your advice with our community!