Updated: August 26, 2011

From your morning omelet to the soupyou had for dinner today, chances are youtook in close to two teaspoons of salt,about 4,600 milligrams of sodium-twicethe recommended maximum of 2,300milligrams. Over time, ingesting largequantities of the mineral can harm yourhealth. "Sodium binds to water, so whenyou consume too much of it, your bloodvolume increases," explains Elisa Zied,R.D., a spokesperson for the AmericanDietetic Association. "That makes yourblood vessels and your heart work harder,raising blood pressure-a risk factor forheart disease and stroke." A high intakemay also cause tummy troubles: One newstudy found that people who eat a high sodiumdiet are 70 percent more likely tosuffer from heartburn-causing acid reflux.To protect your heart and your stomach,follow these salt-saving tips.

  • Use half the salt called for in a recipeand add it at the end of cooking. You'll getmore flavor from it, because the longersomething cooks, the more diluted thesalt becomes.
    Savings: 1/4 teaspoon
  • Season with herbs, juices, and spicesFor delicious suggestions, see our HealthyKitchen column.
    Savings: 1/2 teaspoon

  • Choose low-sodium versions of yourfavorite prepared foods, like soups, saladdressings, and deli meats. (They shouldhave less than 140 milligrams per serving.)And rinse canned vegetables andbeans to get rid of up to half the salt.
    Savings: 1/4 teaspoon or more

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