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September 01, 2015

Sodium: How to Season, Not Swell

It probably does not come as a surprise that many Americans consume way more sodium than is needed throughout a given day. Though salt certainly adds much to a meal, consuming a lot of it is linked to bloating, heart problems, kidney failure, high blood pressure and a wide range of other health issues. Cutting down on sodium can be tough if your taste buds are accustomed to craving that extra flare, but we've come up with 6 easy ways to start the process:

1. Eat in and Cut Down: Restaurants tend to WAY over salt, so one of the simplest ways to cut down on sodium intake is to cook your own food instead of eating out or ordering in. While cooking, take care to notice how much salt youre adding at each step of the process, and experiment with making your own salad dressings, sauces, etc. You'll notice a difference immediately.

2. Choose Condiments Wisely: Some people seem to treat condiments as though they have no caloric content at all. Though condiment sodium levels arent generally through the roof, they can absolutely add up without you really noticing, especially if you're one to slather on the ketchup or soy sauce. Check the labels before purchasing, and opt for condiments with lower sodium levels if possible.

3. Use Citrus Instead: Citrus is said to be a chefs secret weapon. Instead of reaching for extra salt, try adding a splash of lemon or lime juice, orange zest or grated grapefruit rind to enhance the flavors of your dish. No time to buy fresh citrus? Try using a packet of True Lemon, True Lime, True Orange or True Grapefruit for an easy, naturally delicious flavor burst. You'll fall in love!

4. Go for Fresh: Fruits and veggies are naturally very low in sodium, and chock-full of radiant flavors. Instead of buying canned or frozen, which sometimes have added salt and other ingredients, opt for fresh whole fruits and veggies and let your taste buds revel in the natural goodness.

5. Experiment with Spices & Herbs: From rosemary to oregano, cinnamon to mint, there are so many spices, herbs, rubs, seasonings and flavors our there to explore. Instead of automatically reaching for the basic salt-and-pepper each time, go to your local grocery store and try out some new flavors.

6. Adjust Your Buds: According to the National Kidney Foundation, it takes 6-8 weeks to adjust your preferences to lower levels of sodium. Once you've gotten there, however, you'll choose healthier, less-salty foods without even thinking about it. And your liver, heart, and body will reward you! What are your favorite recipes that use citrus instead of salt? Let us know below, along with which of these tips worked best for you!

[Credit: "Top 10 Tips for Reducing Salt in Your Diet." National Kidney Foundation.] [Credit: Sifferlin, Alexandra. "90% of Americans Eat Too Much Salt."TIME.] [Credit: Callahan, Maureen. " Top Ten Ways to Reduce Sodium." Cooking Light.]