Boost your health and drop pounds by cutting out 1 ingredient: sodium

Most Americans consume far more sodium than is recommended, leading to high blood pressure and bloating.

by Robbie Ann Darby – The Root | 5/27/2015, 11:34 a.m.
Most Americans consume far more sodium than is recommended, leading to high blood pressure and bloating.

Did you wake up this morning feeling a few pounds heavier than the night before, yet have no clue how this happened? Well, chances are you didn’t gain an ounce. You’re probably just bloated. So stop blaming your scale for playing tricks on you and try one simple trick: Ditch the sodium.

Americans today consume 50 percent more than the recommended daily amount of sodium, and diets high in it not only raise blood pressure levels but also increase the pounds (temporarily) in the form of water weight.

If you’re afraid to break up with the saltshaker, then let’s shake things up with these tips.

Try this fresh idea

Cooking with salt and pepper exclusively is so 1940s, which is why I’ve recently been having fun with herbs. Shocking for me, since I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with them. I mean, there’s nothing worse then buying a bundle of basil for a recipe that calls for only a teaspoon and having to throw the rest out once it wilts in the fridge. But those days are over.

No, I don’t have a garden in New York City. I actually have a garden in my cupboard, thanks to Litehouse Instantly Fresh Herbs. They aren’t dried herbs, y’all, they’re fresh! Well, they’re freeze-dried fresh herbs. Which means that with a drop of water, they come back to life—with all the flavor, nutrients and even the original shape! There is just one simple ingredient: the herb. No additives and no funky stuff to make it last longer on your shelf.

Make over your meats

Speaking of fresh, cut out packaged meats and go for fresh cuts of beef, poultry or pork. They do contain sodium naturally, but the content is much less than the massive amounts of extra sodium added to processed meats like bacon, ham and deli meat. Basically, the longer you’re able to keep your meat in the fridge, the higher the sodium content.

Be a pro with produce

With farmers markets popping up everywhere and even our first lady showing us how to acquire a green thumb, there really isn’t an excuse not to eat fresh produce. But if your budget is low or if you’re unable to shop locally, then go for the canned and frozen fruits that are low in sodium, and the frozen vegetables that are labeled “fresh frozen.” All of those added syrups, seasonings and sauces are just sodium in disguise.

Flip it and reverse it

The boxes and labels of the foods you eat, that is. Sodium content is always listed, but even sodium’s bestie, sugar, can mask the high sodium content a food may have. So check every label for both of these ingredients.

Watch out when you dine out

Before you meet the crew for dinner on Friday night, be sure to do your research. Some restaurants will list the sodium content of their dishes, but if this information is unavailable, go for items that have no additives, heavy dressings or sauces, or tons of cheese. All of these ingredients are packing in the sodium department, so either skip them or ask for them on the side so that you can control things. Still not sure what to order? Just get what you want and request that the dish be served without salt.