Most Americans eat too much sodium - usually in the form of salt. Excess sodium can raise your blood pressure and increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. It can also make your skin look puffy and may cause bloating. Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic, says to reduce the amount of sodium in your diet you should cut out processed foods, for starters.
"Over 70% of our intake is caused from processed foods. It's not what we're adding from cooking and it's not what we're adding at the dinner table, so the best thing you can do to reduce your sodium intake is to cut processed foods out of your diet," she said.
Research has shown that if Americans were to cut their salt intake by just a little bit, we could see a drop in heart attack and stroke deaths. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day - but the average American is eating more than 3,000 milligrams!
Another way to cut back on your salt, is to limit eating out. Restaurants often add salt to foods to make them taste better, so Kirkpatrick recommends not eating out more than once each week.
"Any time you eat out, even if you request things to be low sodium, you're still probably going to take in probably a day's worth or more just in the meal in your restaurant," she said.
Kirkpatrick adds that the best way to slash sodium from your diet is to get into the kitchen and cook your own meals using foods that are fresh and aren't processed, that way you have more control over the amount of sodium.