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Shake the Saltshaker Less Often

Do you salt your fries? Your salad? How about your peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

If you sprinkle lots of salt on your food, you're in the company of too many Americans who use far more salt than is recommended by the US Food and Drug Administration . Although it's essential for good health, Americans overconsume salt.

For more than 10 years, scientists have suggested that Americans could lower their blood pressure and improve overall health by reducing sodium intake. But a culture accustomed to salty foods hasn't given up the saltshaker so easily. It's not all their fault. Processed, prepared foods – of which Americans eat profusions -- usually contain too much salt.

US Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, and those with high blood pressure as well as middle-aged and older adults should ingest no more than 1,500 milligrams a day.

How dangerous is salt? According to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interes t, Americans' high-sodium diets are boosting blood pressure -- and prematurely killing about 150,000 people each year. Americans now regularly consume about 4,000 milligrams of sodium a day, almost twice the recommended amount.

If you're trying to cut back on salt, here are some tips from Harvard Men's Health Watch .

• Begin by omitting salt from your table, and then from your cooking.

• Learn to use other seasonings, such as pepper, lemon or herbs.

• Avoid frozen dinners, fast and convenience foods and junk foods. Beware prepared sauces and condiments.

• Read food labels carefully and avoid prepared soups and tomato sauces.

• Shop for sodium-free or low-sodium products.

• Choose fresh and homemade foods over processed foods whenever possible. Favor fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

How do you avoid shaking the salt-shaker? Or are you addicted to salt? Let us know here, or email me, at

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