How much salt is too much? Here’s a simple guide

How much salt is too much for you to eat? General guidelines these days say 2,300 mgs for normal people and 1,500 mgs for those with heart or blood pressure issues (i.e. me) or people 51 or older.

So how do you translate that into meals, especially meals eaten away from home? My rule is to try to stay under 1,200 mgs a day since I assume measurements on packaged products or for restaurant nutrition menus can be off a bit. That translates into 400 mgs a meal. That’s for a meal, not a single part of a meal like a turkey burger or side dish like broccoli or whole wheat pasta.

Sliced meats like this are a no-no on a low-salt diet. Even reduced salt varieties have more salt than you need at one meal.
Sliced meats like this are a no-no on a low-salt diet. Even reduced salt varieties have more salt than you need at one meal.

That’s not much at all. To achieve that level you have to avoid:

* Salad dressings (use oil and vinegar; vinaigrette blends normally have lots of salt, avoid those too)
* Regular marinades (I use salt-free ones)
* Regular ketchup (loaded with salt and sugar; I buy a low-salt, sugar-free version)
* Asian food of any kind (soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, both are loaded with salt, even so-called low-salt varieties)
* Processed meats like hot dogs and cold cuts (which I once loved so much).
* Frozen meals and meal kits
* Canned soups
* Potato chips, indeed chips of all kinds (veggie straws are loaded with salt)
* Pre-made buffet restaurant items (normally salted before displaying)
* Most restaurant foods

Cutting salt is a tough, tough thing to do, because it’s overused all around us.

Use a meal tracker like Lose It! or MyFitnessPal to check the sodium in everything you eat.

I’ve managed to cut my salt to the 1,200 mgs a day target, you can too, but know it will be tough and require a major change in your eating habits starting today.


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