What is a Low-Salt Diet?

Dee S.
Dee S.

Many doctors recommend that people with high blood pressure or hypertension follow a low-salt diet. By following a low-salt diet, blood pressure levels can drop. In many cases, individuals who are on several kinds of drugs to control blood pressure can cease taking one or all of their drugs by following a low-salt diet. Researchers are still trying to figure out why a diet low in salt reduces blood pressure.

Table salt.
Table salt.

The daily recommended intake for salt is about 2400 milligrams or about 1 teaspoon. Many people eat more than twice that amount each day, but those following a low-salt diet cut their salt intake dramatically. In many cases, they only consume ½ teaspoon or about 1200 milligrams of salt each day.

Potato chips, which are often heavily salted.
Potato chips, which are often heavily salted.

One of the problems with salt is that it is found in many processed foods and drinks. Soda, bread, cereal, and cheese are only some places that salt can be unexpectedly found. Add those hidden sources of salt to food items that we all know are heavy in salt such as fast foods, potato chips, and pretzels, and it is no wonder that people over-indulge in salt on a daily basis.

Spices like cinnamon can be used in place of salt to add flavor to food.
Spices like cinnamon can be used in place of salt to add flavor to food.

One of the first things that someone following a low-salt diet needs to do is expunge the pantry and refrigerator of all foods that are high in salt. Substitute high salt foods with foods with low or no salt. For example, throw out the bag of potato chips and opt for air-popped popcorn instead or use frozen vegetables instead of canned vegetables.

Cured meats have a high salt content.
Cured meats have a high salt content.

There are many other tips for those wanting to follow a low-salt diet. For example, avoid foods packed in saltwater or brine, such as pickles. Also, avoid foods that have been cured, such as ham, hot dogs, or bacon. Condiments, such as mustard or ketchup, often have high salt content, as well, and marinades should always be used sparingly unless they are made from low-salt products.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are lower in salt than canned varieties.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are lower in salt than canned varieties.

When cooking rice and pasta, it may be tempting to throw in a couple of pinches of salt. By avoiding that practice, another source of salt can be eliminated. If canned vegetables or meat must be used, try to rinse them before eating them. A quick rinse can eliminate a large portion of the salt content.

Air popped popcorn with no added butter or salt can be eaten on a low-salt diet.
Air popped popcorn with no added butter or salt can be eaten on a low-salt diet.

Just because a person is following a low-salt diet does not mean that she is strapped to a life of tasteless meals. By using a variety of spices in your daily cooking, salt will not even be missed. In fact, some spices, such as curry, cinnamon, ginger, and garlic, are not only flavorful, but also healthy. Certain spices have been proven to reduce cholesterol, prevent arthritis, and even reduce the likelihood of some forms of cancer.

A low-salt diet should include several servings of whole grains and fresh fruit daily.
A low-salt diet should include several servings of whole grains and fresh fruit daily.
Low-salt diets often help lower blood pressure.
Low-salt diets often help lower blood pressure.
Dee S.
Dee S.

Dee is a freelance writer based in Colorado. She has a B.A. in English Literature, as well as a law degree. Dee is especially interested in topics relating to medicine, legal issues, and home improvement, which are her specialty when contributing to wiseGEEK.

Readers Also Love

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register: