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Reducing Salt in Your Diet

Giving up salt doesn't mean giving up the pleasure of eating. However, you'll need to be a bit more selective with certain food products and much more creative in the seasoning department. The following guidelines can show you how to drastically cut the amount of salt in your food and body:

Food for Thought

Folks with recurring kidney stones (calcium-oxalate stones), should follow a low-salt diet.


Be aware that some over-the-counter medicines contain a lot of sodium. For example, two tablets of dissolvable Alka-Seltzer (plop plop fizz fizz) have a whopping 1,134 milligrams of sodium. (Each single tablet provides 567 milligrams.) Instead, opt for the caplets that you swallow; they contain only 1.8 milligrams. Quite a drastic difference.

  • Enhance the flavor of your foods with spices and herbs.
  • Avoid putting a salt shaker on your breakfast, lunch, or dinner table.
  • Choose fresh and frozen vegetables when possible. (The canned versions generally contain a lot of salt.) When canned is the only option, reduce the salt by draining the liquid and rinsing the vegetables in water before eating.
  • Another plug for fresh fruit: it's naturally low in sodium and high in potassium.
  • Go easy on condiments that contain considerable amounts of salt, including catsup, mustard, monosodium glutamate (MSG), salad dressings, sauces, bouillon cubes, olives, sauerkraut, and pickles. Stock your kitchen with low-sodium versions of soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, steak sauce, and anything else you might find in your travels.
  • Select unsalted (or reduced salt) nuts, seeds, crackers, popcorn, and pretzels.
  • Take it easy with cheese. Unfortunately, it not only has a lot of fat, but sodium as well. If you're feeling extra motivated, stock your fridge with low-salt/low-fat brands.
  • Read labels carefully and choose foods lower in sodium, especially when choosing frozen dinners, canned soups, packaged mixes, and combination dishes.
  • Avoid processed luncheon cold cuts, as well as cured and smoked meats. Also be aware that most varieties of canned fish (tuna, salmon, and sardines) are extremely high in sodium.
  • When dining in Chinese or Japanese restaurants ask for meals without MSG or added salt. Nowadays, you can also request low-sodium soy sauce for your table. If they don't have any, dilute the regular by adding a tablespoon of water.

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Total Nutrition © 2005 by Joy Bauer. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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