There are two types of people in this world: those who prefer candy and those who prefer potato chips. Salty foods, like chips, deliver a satisfying taste with each and every bite, and make us crave more (salt). The ubiquitous ingredient is added when we cook and bake, but too much salt can raise our blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease.

On average, adults in the United States eat more than 3,400 milligrams (mgs) of sodium each day, with more than 75 percent of sodium coming from processed, prepackaged, and restaurant foods. This is more than the 2,300 mgs a day limit set by the American Heart Association. However, this number can vary based on climate, lifestyle, and genetics, according to Kim Feeney, a registered dietitian with five years of experience, including weight management, sports nutrition, and cardiovascular disease.

Read: How A Diet Too High In Sodium Can Affect Your Heart, Brain, And Even Bone Health

For example, "someone who works outside in the heat or exercises a lot may have increased needs," she told Medical Daily.

Salt is often a "hidden" ingredient in many foods, leading us to underestimate how much sodium we're eating. There are foods, such as potato chips, cheese, and bacon, that are obviously salty, but less obvious culprits, such as bread, also may contain a lot of salt, which could compromise our diet.

To keep track of our salt intake, let’s reduce sodium in our diet, with these expert four tips.

Tip #1: Cook From Scratch

Processed foods contain salt to increase their shelf life and enhance flavor. Cooking the least amount of processed foods will help limit the salt content in a meal. At restaurants, salt is added more liberally.

Dr. Adrienne Youdim, a physician, nutritionist specialist at the Center for Weight Loss and Nutrition in Beverly Hills, Calif., reminds us, "cooking from scratch by definition is cooking from fresh."

"The benefit of fresh is that it does not require salt to be preserved. It also means that you choose the amount of added salt for taste as you cook and you can choose to add less than what restaurants or food manufacturers would like for you to taste," she told Medical Daily.

Cooking from scratch is a great way to limit your overall salt intake.

Tip #2: Choose Low-Sodium Or Sodium-Free Products

We tend to notice products labeled "low-sodium" or "sodium-free" when shopping for groceries, but what does that exactly mean?

Simply put: less salt.

Youdim explains: "The most common salt is made of sodium and chloride. When food manufacturers limit the sodium content of a food, they typically do so by adding less salt."

There are salt substitutes that contain a different positive ion than sodium, which is typically potassium. These alternatives don't taste the same, but they do mimic the flavor of salt.

Read: How Much Is Too Much When It Comes To Salt Intake?

However, Youdim recommends these alternatives for healthy individuals, because excessive potassium intake may be harmful for some people with renal disease and other health conditions. It's best to talk with your doctor to discuss safe salt alternatives.

Seasoning foods with the use of herbs and spices is a safe alternative to salt. Using fresh or dried herbs, spices, vinegars, and lemon or lime juice are great ways to add flavor, without sodium.

There are salt-free blends, like Mrs. Dash, that are a good way to season foods without adding salt, according to Tracy Severson, a dietitian with Knight Cardiovascular Institute’s Center for Preventive Cardiology at Oregon Health & Science University.

"Switching to low-sodium or sodium-free products can help someone reduce sodium intake while still choosing foods they enjoy," she told Medical Daily.

Tip #3: Avoid Salty Foods At Restaurants

We all enjoy a night of takeout or dining out at our favorite restaurant. Limiting salt intake can be difficult, but still possible. Typically, foods at restaurants have added salt, and even include nutrition information, including sodium, available for their menus. Severson advises, if this is not posted, just ask if it's available. If it's not, request foods to be prepared without added salt, and order sauces and dressing on the side.

However, Severson cautions: "[M]any restaurants may use pre-seasoned foods or sodium-containing seasonings other than salt, so your meal may still end up higher in sodium than a home-cooked meal would be.

Tip #4: Avoid Instant Foods

Salt is used to enhance flavor in most processed foods, and it's also used as a preservative in processed foods. However, it's not always in the form of table salt (sodium chloride), but in other sodium-containing preservatives as well (e.g., monosodium glutamate or sodium benzoate, according to Severson.

Popular instant foods with high salt include soup and oatmeal. If several quantities are consumed, this could add to your hidden sodium intake. Eat one cup of soup, or one packet of oatmeal at a time.

See Also:

Too Much Salt Is Bad For You: Fact Or Myth?

Lowering Sodium Intake To Raise New Generations Of Healthy Kids