Those of us who shop for organic food are usually pretty good about watching our salt intake. I’m certainly not anti-sodium (a main component of salt), as it’s essential to keeping the body functioning, but I tend to watch my salt intake.

Sodium helps transmit nerve impulses, makes muscles work and maintains the proper balance of body fluids. Some of us, however, are sodium-sensitive (swollen ankles and water retention, anyone?). Others suffer from hypertension and need to reduce their sodium intake. But even if you don’t have high blood pressure, limiting sodium as part of a healthy organic diet may decrease your risk of developing future problems.

Our taste for salt is both acquired and reversible. As we use less salt, our preference for it diminishes. The February issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource offers several ideas for controlling sodium intake:

  • Eat more fresh foods and fewer processed foods. Fresh foods are naturally low in sodium. Most sodium in the average American’s diet (77%) comes from eating processed and prepared foods, such as preserved meats, canned foods, frozen foods and commercial baked goods.
  • Shop for products low in sodium. A low-sodium product contains 140 mg or less of sodium per serving—5% or less of the recommended daily sodium intake.
  • Limit use of sodium-rich condiments. About 11% of sodium in the average diet comes from adding salt or condiments (ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, soy sauces) to foods while cooking or eating.
  • Use herbs and spices for added flavor. To enhance vegetables, try parsley, basil, chives, ginger, cumin, oregano or lemon. For meats, add bay leaves, peppercorns, ginger, rosemary, sage or even cranberries.