Before salt, it was sugar. And before sugar, it was low-fat options. We've all been there at some point: You're at the doctor's office for a simple check-up, and they tell you your blood pressure is too high. What do you do? Do you try one of those new diet trends that just seem to always end up failing? The answer is simple: Figure out where you are taking in the most sodium and find ways to limit it. 

The average American eats about 20 times more salt each day than the recommended amount that they should.  While some salt is needed for the body to maintain fluid levels, an excess amount can lead to anything ranging from hypertension to cardiovascular disease. 

Now, just because too much salt is bad doesn't mean that salt is entirely off limits. There are plenty of ways you can lower your salt intake without getting rid of it completely! Read on for 7 ways to lessen the amount of salt in your diet to help you get started on a life with lower sodium.

Buy Fresh, Non-Packaged Meats and Veggies

carrot, vegetable, pasture, farmer's market
Caroline Ingalls

This ensures that you aren't getting all the preservatives that are used in the prepackaged meals and meats. Need help knowing what to look for during your next trip to the grocery store? Check out this list to help guide you on your next grocery run. 

Avoid Foods Labeled "Low-Sodium" or "Salt-Free"

milk, coffee, tea, dairy product
Natsuko Mazany

And know exactly what it is that these labels mean! Labels can be deceiving; something that is labeled as "salt-free" or as containing "reduced salt" may not always be 100% truthful. When in doubt, take a look at the ingredients list on the item's nutrition label.

Prepare Your Own Meals

vinegar, garlic, oil, herb, salt, pickle
Bernard Wen

It's no secret that many pre-made, frozen meals are high in salt content. The non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest found that half of a ready-made pizza might have as much as 1,350 mg of salt! By making your own meals, you can decide how much salt is in your meal and eliminate much of what is put in when the food is processed. 

Try Other Seasonings/Flavors

Free stock photo of black pepper, bowl, clove

on Pexels

There are many types of enjoyable spices and flavorings out there that aren't salt. Need help deciding which to use in your next recipe? Check out this list of salt substitutes to get you started!

When Possible, Avoid Medications That Contain Sodium

Blue and Silver Stetoscope · Free Stock Photo

on Pexels

If you're a person who routinely or often has to take medications, like Alka Seltzer and Bromo Seltzer or painkillers like ibuprofen, it may be worth noting that these types of pills can contain up to 1 gram of salt per tablet. If you've been advised to reduce your intake, it's definitely best to consult your doctor about alternative meds that might be lower in sodium.

Remember: Salt Is Salt

Jennifer Elias

With so many types of salt (regular salt, pink salt, Himalayan salt, etc.), one might believe that one salt is healthier than another. Therefore, it's important to remember the mantra, "salt is salt" and that using one over the others makes no difference. 

Ask Questions At Restaurants

cake, red white and blue, Fruit, strawberries, blueberries, decorating
Sam Jesner

Unless your restaurant offers its menu's nutrition information online, it can be difficult to know exactly what is going into the food you're ordering when you eat out. Don't be afraid to ask! Before ordering an item on the menu, kindly ask how much salt is put into it, or choose to substitute items that are sauteed or fried with fresh vegetables, instead. 

While some salt is good for our bodies, too much of this "good thing" can definitely harm our health. With these 7 tips in mind, you are well on your way to lowering the amount of salt in your diet. As Dr. Joel Fuhrman once said, "Reducing dietary salt is not only important for those who already have elevated blood pressure - limiting added salt is essential for all of us to remain in good health."