By now you're probably familiar with MyPlate, the government's new food pyramid replacement; in case you hadn't heard, based on the updated guidelines, Americans are consuming far more sodium than they should. And new research suggests that overconsumption of salt affects cognitive function. High blood pressure, water retention, and stupidity? That's too much to bear. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to cut down on salt in the kitchen without impacting the deliciousness of your dinner. See a few easy steps, when you keep reading.

  • Use sea salt. Sea salt is on a high pedestal at the moment, but that's because it has true benefits. Because the all-natural, flaky salt is crunchier and larger in surface area than its generic table counterpart, a little bit of the stuff goes a long way.
  • Measure salt and pepper. If you haven't been busting out those teaspoons, be sure to make the most of them now. As an added perk, you're cutting down on the room for error when you follow a recipe's specific seasoning amount.
  • Cook from scratch whenever you can. Because salt is a preservative, it's a key ingredient in prolonging the shelf life of most prepared, canned, and packaged foods. Rather than buying pantry items like olives or ricotta cheese, make them yourself.
  • If you must buy canned items, rinse them before use. Don't have time to boil corn or soak beans? Buy the low-sodium canned version, then rinse the goods off with water before using them in a recipe.
  • Boost other tastes. Besides salty, there are four other basic tastes, so use them! I recommend cooking with foods high in umami, like mushrooms, tomatoes, and red wine, for an increase in savory, full flavors.
  • Don't forget the acid. Acidity can bring out flavors as much as, if not more than, salt; added citrus or vinegar will lend a piquancy to your dish that can mimic the qualities of salt.