Reducing your sodium intake is an easy, painless way to lower your blood pressure. Despite what you may think, it isn’t all about taking things OUT of your diet. I’m a bigger fan of adding things INTO your diet. Here are a few things you can do to lower your sodium intake without having to eat bland, uninspired meals:
1) Replace processed food with home cooked meals.
Processed food is loaded…seriously loaded with sodium. That’s partially how processed food stays fresh for weeks on end. Take a good, hard look at your daily diet and see what foods you can replace with natural food and home-cooked meals. If you usually eat two microwaveable meals (lean cuisine, weight watchers, etc.) cut back to one and replace the other with a fresh, home-cooked meal. Once you get used to that change, replace the other daily processed meal with a fresh meal that you can make at home. This will take hundreds of milligrams of sodium out of your diet without cutting back on the actual amount of food you get to eat.
2) Use a variety of herbs & spices.
We usually load our meals up with salt because it brings out the flavors of our meals. You can enhance the flavor of your meals without loading up on salt by accessing a larger arsenal of spices. Instead sprinkling salt all over your dish, try seasoning with oregano, paprika, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, or whatever goes best with your dish and then just a light sprinkle of salt to make it all come alive.
3) Replace butter with olive oil or coconut oil.
If you’re used to spreading butter on your bread, rice, and pasta or if you saute most of your meals in butter, try replacing that butter with olive oil or coconut oil. Olive oil and coconut oil are lower and sodium and they’re also two healthier fat alternatives that may even help you burn fat, lower your LDL cholesterol and lower your blood pressure.
4) Use hot sauce or hot spices.
Hot sauce, red pepper flakes, and chili peppers have helped me cut a lot of sodium from my diet. My clients have said that this has worked wonders for them also. The extra heat keeps any meal from tasting bland.
5) Make your own sports drinks and soft drinks.
Sports drinks are usually relatively high in sodium to help replenish electrolytes during and after your workout. Making your own sports drinks can help you seriously cut down on sugar and sodium. How? Fill a large shaker bottle with ice, 4 oz. coconut water, 4 oz. of 100% juice, and the rest with water. Shake and enjoy a sweet, hydrating beverage loaded with potassium and vitamins.
To make your own soft drink, try a flavored Polar seltzer in a tall glass filled with ice. Pour a few ounces of juice and fresh lemon or lime wedge to make a sweet, fizzy soft drink with less than 1/2 the calories of a traditional soft drink.