Should You Eliminate Salt Completely
If sodium can increase your risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and all-cause death, you may be tempted to eliminate it from your diet completely. But sodium serves some very important purposes.
Even though too much can increase blood pressure, consuming healthy amounts of sodium actually helps the body control blood pressure while also controlling blood volume. And without adequate sodium, your muscles and nerves won’t work as they should.
Consuming this mineral is important support healthy body function. The key is to not consume so much that it does more harm than good.
Try Low Sodium Diet Meal Delivery
The easiest way to follow this kind of diet is by subscribing to a low sodium meal plan from ModifyHealth. We provide fully prepared, low sodium meals that can be delivered to your front door with free shipping.
Using a low sodium meal delivery service can make adopting a low sodium diet easier and can have long lasting positive impacts on your health. Our mission is to help people take control of their health by using food as medicine.
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How Can I Use Food Labels To Choose Foods That Are Low In Sodium
Read food labels to find the amount of sodium they contain. The amount of sodium is listed in milligrams . The % Daily Value column tells you how much of your daily needs are met by 1 serving of the food for each nutrient listed. Choose foods that have less than 5% of the DV of sodium. These foods are considered low in sodium. Foods that have 20% or more of the DV of sodium are considered high in sodium. Some food labels may also list any of the following terms that tell you about the sodium content in the food:
- Sodium-free: Less than 5 mg in each serving
- Very low sodium: 35 mg of sodium or less in each serving
- Low sodium: 140 mg of sodium or less in each serving
- Reduced sodium: At least 25% less sodium in each serving than the regular type
- Light in sodium: 50% less sodium in each serving
- Unsalted or no added salt: No extra salt is added during processing
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How To Balance A Low Sodium Diet
Reducing sodium in your diet may not be as hard as you think. Following these simple tips can make a big difference in lowering sodium intake.
- Eat more fresh produce, which is naturally low in sodium. Make it a daily habit to choose juicy fruit or chopped veggies for snacks, and green salads for side dishes.
- Foodshigh in potassium can help counter the effects of sodium. Spinach, avocados, potatoes, tomatoes, dried apricots, bananas, and salmon are some good examples.
- Go lighter on high-sodium dips, sauces, and dressings. Shop for low sodium options to keep in your pantry.
- Read and compare labels at the grocery store. Avoid buying foods that have more than 20% of the recommended daily allowance of sodium in one serving.
- If you get a salty snack craving, consider smaller servings sizes likeChomplings, which only have 5% of the daily value of sodium.
- Consider eating at home more often or switch to restaurants that cook from scratch and will cater to your low-sodium standards.
- Spice things up! Cook with salt-free herbs like parsley, fruits like citrus, and vegetables like onions and garlic to improve flavors and aromas in healthier ways.
- Low salt doesnt mean no salt. Its okay to include occasional salty snacks with your low salt snacks, especially when your selection offers valuable nutrients. For example,Chomps jerky sticks are high in protein and provide iron, potassium, and calcium.
How Can I Tell How Much Sodium Im Eating
You can find the amount of sodium in your food by looking at the Nutrition Facts label. The amount of sodium per serving is listed in milligrams . Check the ingredient list for words like sodium,salt and soda. The total sodium shown on the Nutrition Facts label includes the sodium from salt, plus the sodium from any other sodium-containing ingredient in the product. For example, this includes ingredients like sodium nitrate, sodium citrate, monosodium glutamate or sodium benzoate.
Remember to take note of the serving size on the Nutrition Facts label. If your portion size equals two servings of a product, youre actually eating double the sodium listed.
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Cancel Out Sodium With Potassium To Help Lower Blood Pressure
Research shows that potassium helps cancel sodiums effect on blood pressure. It also likely lowers the risk of stroke. Many of us dont get enough potassium in our diets. Eating more fruits and vegetables high in potassium can help.
- Vegetables high in potassium include potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, raisins, lima beans, and lentils.
- Fruits high in potassium include bananas, oranges, watermelon, and cantaloupe.
Note: Some people should not eat a high-potassium diet, especially if youre on certain medicines. Be sure to check with your physician or registered dietitian.
Foods To Avoid On A Low
People tend to think that adding table salt to food before eating it is the main culprit of high sodium levels, but about 70% or more of the sodium most people are getting comes from various salts present in prepared and processed foods. The following foods are particularly high in sodium and should be avoided on a low-sodium diet:
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High Sodium Foods To Avoid
The majority of salt intake happens when dining out at restaurants, eating fast food, or consuming a lot of packaged and prepared foods like the following:
- Sauces like soy sauce, ketchup, marinara, teriyaki, BBQ, salad dressings, etc.
- Salty Snacks foods: rule of thumb, if you can see the salt on the food then it’s probably a no-go. Salted pretzels, chips, salted nuts, crackers, etc.
- Bread, bagels, tortillas, biscuits
- Processed meats: these meats tend to be cured in or contain high amounts of sodium for preservation purposes bacon, sausage, lunch meats, hot dogs,
No salt is added during processing but these products may not be salt/sodium-free
Sodium And Blood Pressure
Sodium attracts water, and a high-sodium diet draws water into the bloodstream, which can increase the volume of blood and subsequently your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a condition in which blood pressure remains elevated over time. Hypertension makes the heart work too hard, and the high force of the blood flow can harm arteries and organs . Uncontrolled high blood pressure can raise the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, and blindness. In addition, blood pressure generally rises as you get older, so limiting your sodium intake becomes even more important each year.
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How Much Sodium Is In A Low Sodium Diet
The2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium daily, or the equivalent of one teaspoon of table salt. The recommendation may be as low as 1,500 mg for those with high blood pressure, or hypertension.
Most of the excess sodium we eat does not come from our own salt shakers or home cooking. It comes from eating in restaurants too often , and from processed foods like boxed or frozen dinners. Even things that seem healthy like canned vegetables, soups, and beans can be surprisingly high in sodium.
May Help Decrease Cancer Risk
High-salt diets have been linked to certain types of cancers, including of the stomach.
A review of 76 studies in more than 6,300,000 people found that for every five-gram increase of dietary salt per day from high-salt processed foods the risk of stomach cancer increased by 12% .
Research has shown that high-salt diets can damage the mucosal lining of your stomach and increase inflammation and the growth of H. Pylori bacteria all of which may raise stomach cancer risk .
On the other hand, a diet low in high-sodium processed foods and rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of stomach cancer (
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Low Sodium Diet Difficulty
Switching to this diet can be very difficult if you are used to cooking in a certain way or if you are eating out at restaurants that serve food with a ton of seasoning and added salt.
Many Americans also rely on fast food for a quick breakfast or lunch throughout the day, but many of the foods served at fast food restaurants are high in sodium and trans fats, which can lead to health decline, obesity, and chronic conditions.
ModifyHealth can help make the transition to a doctor-recommended low sodium diet as easy and seamless as possible.
Day : Fresh And Crunchy
Start the day with whole-grain cereal, skim milk, low-sodium whole-wheat toast, juice and a piece of fresh fruit for breakfast. At lunchtime, have a whole-wheat pita stuffed with chicken salad prepared with low-fat mayonnaise. Serve it along with sticks of raw vegetables, string cheese, fruit salad and milk. Baked fish, steamed green vegetables, whole-wheat couscous, salad, fresh fruit and a whole-grain roll might be dinner. Aim to eat unsalted nuts and low- or no-salt pretzels during your morning and afternoon snacks.
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Can Reduce Blood Pressure
The American Heart Association says that the average person should not eat more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day and that the perfect amount of sodium intake per day would be around 1,500 mg. The AHA also says that eating less processed salty foods can drastically lower your daily sodium levels which can reduce blood pressure and even prevent hypertension from happening in the first place.
May Improve Diet Quality
Many unhealthy foods are extremely high in sodium.
Fast food, packaged items and frozen meals are not only loaded with salt but also tend to be high in unhealthy fats and calories.
Frequent consumption of these foods has been linked to health conditions such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease .
On a low-sodium diet, these high-salt foods are off limits, which may improve your overall diet quality.
Following a low-sodium diet may decrease blood pressure, lower your risk of stomach cancer and improve diet quality.
The following foods are high in sodium and should be avoided on a low-sodium diet:
Though certain foods like vegetables and unprocessed meats naturally contain small amounts of sodium, its insignificant compared to the amount of sodium added to commercially prepared foods.
The best way to avoid high-sodium foods is to restrict salty snack foods, fast food and packaged meals.
Processed meats, cheese, frozen meals, fast foods and salty condiments are just some of the foods that are highest in sodium and should be avoided on a low-sodium diet.
If you follow a low-sodium diet, its important to choose foods that are naturally low in sodium or contain limited amounts of added salt.
The following foods are low in sodium and safe to eat on a low-sodium diet:
Foods like fresh vegetables, fruits, most dairy products, eggs and unsalted nuts are naturally low in sodium.
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Avoid Lunch Meats And Other Cured Meats
If you eat a lot of lunch meat or other cured meatsâsuch as salami, pepperoni, and baconâyou may be consuming more sodium than you realize. Salt is often used in these foods to stop bacteria from growing and to increase the meat’s shelf life.
Buying low sodium lunch meats is a good first step. Another alternative is to cook up some chicken or lean beef, slice it thin, and use that for your wraps or sandwiches. Play around with seasonings to keep your taste buds from getting bored.
Sodium Regulation In The Body
Sodium is an important electrolyte that helps regulate body fluids, blood volume, and blood pressure. Sodium is also needed to make our muscles, including our heart muscle, contract. However, it doesnt take much salt in our diets to make the magic happen.
Its estimated that adults needless than 1,500 mg of sodium in their diet to do this each day. On average, Americans eat over 3,400 mg daily, which is a lot more than whats needed.
When we eat too much salt, our kidneys try to help regulate sodium in our bodies, sending excess out through urine. Sometimes kidneys cant keep up with filtering extra sodium, which throws off fluid balance. Sodium concentrations in the blood become too high, and water is drawn out of tissues into the blood. This adds volume and pressure to blood vessels.
In addition to being a strain on the kidneys, scientists think that too much sodium is a major contributor to chronic high blood pressure and hardened arteries. These factors can lead to a higher risk for having a heart attack or stroke.
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General Guidelines For Cutting Down On Salt
- Eliminate salty foods from your diet and reduce the amount of salt used in cooking. Sea salt is no better than regular salt.
- Choose low sodium foods. Many salt-free or reduced salt products are available. When reading food labels, low sodium is defined as 140 mg of sodium per serving.
- Salt substitutes are sometimes made from potassium, so read the label. If you are on a low potassium diet, then check with your doctor before using those salt substitutes.
- Be creative and season your foods with spices, herbs, lemon, garlic, ginger, vinegar and pepper. Remove the salt shaker from the table.
- Read ingredient labels to identify foods high in sodium. Items with 400 mg or more of sodium are high in sodium. High sodium food additives include salt, brine, or other items that say sodium, such as monosodium glutamate.
- Eat more home-cooked meals. Foods cooked from scratch are naturally lower in sodium than most instant and boxed mixes.
- Don’t use softened water for cooking and drinking since it contains added salt.
- Avoid medications which contain sodium such as Alka Seltzer and Bromo Seltzer.
- For more information food composition books are available which tell how much sodium is in food. Online sources such as www.calorieking.com also list amounts.
Eat Primarily Fresh Whole Foods
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that over 70% of the average person’s sodium intake comes from foods that are packaged or prepared. So reducing your intake of these types of foods may have the greatest impact on the amount of sodium you consume.
Canned foods, frozen meals, and many other processed foods contain very high amounts of sodium, both from salt used to flavor the foods and food additives and preservatives that contain sodium in various forms. You’ll find sodium in most butter or margarine, milk, bread, and other staple foods.
You can avoid these sodium sources by eating primarily fresh, whole foods. This includes fresh fruits and veggies, fresh lean meats, and other non-processed items typically found in the supermarket’s produce and fresh meat aisles.
Can You Rinse Sodium Away?
Rinsing canned vegetables and legumes with water can remove some of the sodium. It’s difficult to know exactly how much, as studies and sources differ on this.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, simply draining the liquid from canned vegetables such as green beans, corn, and peas can reduce sodium by up to 9%. If you rinse these vegetables too, you can decrease it by as much as 12% more.
If you need to track your sodium grams every day, you’re probably better off buying low-sodium or no-salt-added canned goods and fresh or frozen vegetables.
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Can Improve Quality Of Overall Diet
Another important aspect of the diet is that it can improve the overall quality of your diet. Most Americans have a high sodium diet because they are eating foods with tons of added salt that have been highly processed or foods with a high shelf life. These kinds of high sodium foods are sold in the grocery store and even in most restaurants.
Eliminating these foods will not only lower your daily sodium levels but will also help you start eating ng fresher, all natural foods instead. Eating fresh, all-natural foods is important for overall health and life longevity.
For example, you can eat fresh vegetables instead of canned vegetables or you can prep your own food instead of resorting to convenience foods from a fast-food restaurant.
Tips For Grocery Shopping Success
Dont let grocery shopping be an overwhelming process. Try our tips to get in and out quickly with the right low sodium foods:
- Meal plan: If you struggle with what to purchase, try making a meal plan, like the sample one below. Then, create your shopping list around your meal plan. That way, youll only buy what you need and you wont have to worry about what to eat throughout the week.
- Shop the perimeter: The healthiest foods are usually on the outside aisles of the grocery store. Buy 90 percent of your groceries along the perimeter and then get the rest from the other aisles. Things like pasta, rice, spices, and cereal will all be found in the center aisles.
- Dont give in to temptation: Make a list and stick to it. Avoid impulse buys and going to the grocery store when youre hungry. You dont want to give in to processed foods and salty snacks, which will derail your low sodium diet plan.
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