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Lower Your Salt Intake

Learn how to spot high-sodium foods and make healthier choices.
You already know that too much salt is bad for health, but unfortunately, as much as 80 percent of our salt consumption comes from processed and fast foods. Since eating preserved and processed foods has become a way of life, many of us are consuming way more sodium than the FDA's recommended limit of 1,500 to 2,400 mg a day, which is why cutting back on sodium can be so tricky. Here, health experts share tips on how you can cut down on dietary salt.

Sodium in fast foods and processed foods

Sodium is widely used as a flavor enhancer and many restaurant meals, packaged and processed foods are full of it. Plus, salt helps process basic raw ingredients into other food products. Of these, cheese is perhaps one of the most familiar examples.

"Seventy-five percent of the sodium consumed is in processed foods," says Food and Drug Administration's Ellen Anderson, Ph.D., physical chemist in the Office of Food Labeling. "What the food industry includes during processing, we can't take out."

So how can we cut back on dietary salt? Limit your consumption of these high-sodium foods: Chinese foods (which often contain monosodium glutamate or MSG), soy sauce, salt-based condiments and preserved foods such as salted vegetables and sausages which often contain the high-sodium preservative sodium nitrites. When eating out, ask the chef to go easy on the salt -- most restaurant chefs will omit salt when requested.

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