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Feb 1, 2012

How I Personally Manage My Salt Intake

Is salt really bad for health?  I've done some browsing on the internet and I have read varying opinions about salt.  Should we really take it out from our daily diet, run away from it like it's some kind of poison?  For the life of me, if I keep reading more, I'll probably go insane. But we need to know. So we keep searching and weeding out the good or credible information and those sites that clearly promote a certain propaganda. 

Until such matters are resolved and those scientists and doctors and medical practitioners come into agreement, we either take this side or that side or stay in the middle perhaps?  I think I'll take the last option instead.  After all, my doctor didn't tell me to have a no-salt diet but merely to limit my salt (sodium) intake.  Even the DASH diet plan only limits the salt.  They have two versions of it, the high salt (2,300 mg/day) and the low salt diet (1,500 mg/day).  Take note that I am only limiting my salt intake because there are studies that implicates the correlation between high sodium consumption with essential hypertension.  Besides that, I believe in the concept of moderation.  Too much of anything, even a good one becomes a poison right?

So how do I manage limiting my salt intake to 1,500 mg?  Here are a few steps I took that are not too drastic for me (but it could be for you, so just do it one at a time if you're not in any health risk).

I do my best to avoid:
  • canned goods packed in brine (sardines, tuna) and instant noodles that have those ready-to-add seasonings in packets 
  • eating in fast food restaurants.  I didn't say fine dining restaurants because I don't really go there.  But if you do, at least you can tell the chef not to be too generous with salt, or better, that you'll just add it yourself to taste.
  • eating junk foods specially the overly-salty ones (I guess this is a no-brainer)
I prefer to go easy on:
  • tuyo, daing, tinapa, cured meats (like tocino) longganisa, etc.  I still eat these but definitely not on a daily basis.  I just eat in the smallest amount possible.
  • condiments such as fish sauce, soy sauce, bagoong, etcetera on the dinner table.  This is assuming the food prepared is already suited to my taste.  I have read somewhere that a tablespoon of fish sauce, soy sauce or bagoong already contains a whopping 1,000 mg of sodium. I use that amount as a guideline (aside from my taste buds) when ordering food in our canteen.
  • foods like binagoongan, pinakbet and the likes but if I have other choices, I'll say no to these.
I make extra effort to eat more:
  • fruits - fresh is the best choice but you can also go for frozen or even canned (provided there aren't to0 many additives) Pitted prunes are a good example. 
  • steamed, boiled or raw vegetables
  • market-bought meat that has not undergone processing (i.e fresh fish, poultry, lean meat, etc)
  • cereals that have low or no sodium at all.  
 Fruit Plate! by Nikchick
 Fruit Plate!, a photo by Nikchick on Flickr.
I don't cook at my place, but in the future, I'll try to do that.  Preparing my own food gives me better control as to what goes in the dishes.

Lastly, I make it a habit to read food labels (for those store-bought items).  You'd be surprised that some food items that don't taste that salty have a considerable amount of sodium.  Choose those that have tolerable amounts of sodium. 

You might also like to check these past articles I wrote about food:

While you're at it, also read this article from Paula's Mommy Diary.

This post is quite a long answer to Lady Spring's query about how I personally manage my diet, particularly my sodium intake. She has recently resolved to have her own lifestyle change. I hope this article has been helpful.

Disclaimer: Please do not take this article as a professional advice.  I am not a medical practitioner and these are just steps I have taken to control my hypertension.  Whenever applicable, always seek medical advice before going on a diet or fitness routine.


  1. I need to change my lifestyle too and stop putting so much canned goods, noodles etc. in our grocery cart.

  2. Daddy Allan is telling me about the amount of Sodium we should just take per day. So he is researching for a good substitute of sodium and then he read about the herbs and spices can replace salt because they contain potassium instead.

    Mommy Maye2

  3. Check out canned goods, say tuna..try to compare yung spicy at regular. There is more sodium in the regular than the spicy one. I guess, it's because the spices already compensate for the taste that's why they can afford lesser salt. Sa Pinoy cuisine kasi, ang basehan ng masarap, yung alat eh hehehe. It's a habit we need to change. You're on the right track with lessening salt by replacing it with herbs and spices.