When we eat healthy, most of us pay close attention to fat and calories and ignore one very crucial ingredient: Salt. The fact is, most of us eat twice as much salt as we should every day.

And one of the biggest culprits is restaurant food. It contains a lot more salt than home-cooked meals and the average person eats out at least 5 times a week.

And even if you avoid the obvious stuff, like salty soups and Chinese food, there’s a lot of salt in restaurant foods that don’t seem salty like bread, salads, and sauces.

So, why is restaurant food so salty? Because it makes food taste good! Scientists say that extra salt opens up the pores on your tongue and lets you taste the food better.  It also hides bitterness, and gives flavor to foods that don’t have much, like cheap cuts of meat, and less-than-ripe vegetables. It also extends shelf life, helps meat brown better, and helps cooked vegetables retain their flavor and color. And even more crucial: It’s cheaper than other seasonings.

So, how can you reduce your salt when you eat out? Order grilled fish and salads prepared with olive oil and lemon. Often even plain salad greens are salted to add flavor then, to mask the taste, they’re doused with vinegar.

Also order gravies and sauces on the side, because the liquid makes them taste less salty than they are.

Another restaurant tip: Skip the wine – which makes you crave salty flavors.
And stick with creamy, dairy-based desserts – like ice cream, they’re lower in sodium than baked goods.

But your best bet is to eat at home. People cooking for themselves use a lot less salt than chefs since they don’t have anyone judging what they prepare, and no one will send it back.