How to Reduce the Salt in Your Holiday Meal

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You can put down the salt shaker at the Thanksgiving table on Thursday. There's already a large amount of sodium hidden in your meal.

Too much sodium may drive up your blood pressure. Medical professionals say Americans eat way too much salt, with most of it coming from common processed foods and restaurant meals.

Salt can easily sneak into foods that are traditionally seen on the Thanksgiving table, from salty stuffing to sodium-filled green bean casserole.

Even turkey can have a large dose of salt. Though it's naturally low in sodium, often times the birds are injected with salt water to plump them up before they hit store shelves.

However, cooks can employ some tricks to reduce the amount of salt in a meal.

"For Thanksgiving or any meal, the more you can cook from scratch and have some control over the sodium that's going in, the better," says the American Dietetic Association's Bethany Thayer, a registered dietitian.

New government dietary guidelines say people shouldn't eat more than the equivalent of a teaspoon of salt a day.

Tips to Cut Back on Salt on Thanksgiving and beyond:

  • All bread contains sodium, but starting with a homemade cornbread for stuffing could help cut a few hundred milligrams.
  • Use low-sodium broth for the gravy, and choose low-sodium soups whenever possible.
  • Try onion, garlic and a variety of other herbs in place of salt. Lemon and other citrus also can stand in for salt in some foods.
  • Check your spice bottles. Combination products, such as those labeled poultry seasoning, can contain salt.
  • Fresh or frozen vegetables have little if any sodium, unless you choose the frozen kind with an added sauce.
  • People tend to heavily salt mashed potatoes while sweet potatoes, even dressed up as a souffle, contain very little sodium.

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