What is sodium?
Sodium is an element that is found in many foods as well as water. The body requires a small amount of sodium in the diet to manage blood pressure and volume. However, most people consume many times the amount of sodium needed. The average American eats five or more teaspoons of salt each day. This is about 20 times as much as the body needs.
Why do you need to manage sodium intake?
Sodium controls fluid balance in your body and maintains blood volume and pressure. Eating too much sodium may raise blood pressure and cause fluid retention, which could lead to swelling of the legs and feet. It may also increase the risk of stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, and kidney disease. Following a low-salt diet helps keep high blood pressure and swelling (also called edema) under control. It can also make breathing easier if you have heart failure.
What is a low sodium diet?
You should have no more than 2300 mg of sodium each day. Less than 1500 mg a day is ideal.
2300 mg sodium ≈ 1 teaspoon salt
A low-sodium diet means more than eliminating the salt shaker from the table!
Sodium is found naturally in foods, but a lot of it is added during processing and preparation. Large amounts of sodium can be hidden in canned, processed and convenience foods. Many foods that do not taste salty may still be high in sodium.
Some of the meats and nuts contain high sodium may harm your health: Smoked, cured, salted or canned meat, fish or poultry including bacon, cold cuts, ham, sausage; frozen breaded meats and dinners, such as burritos and pizza; salted nuts and beans canned with salt added. Here’re some alternatives that you may like: any fresh or frozen beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and fish; eggs and egg substitutes; low-sodium peanut butter; dry peas and beans (not canned); drained, water or oil-packed canned fish or poultry.
2. Dairy Products
High sodium dairy products: buttermilk; regular and processed cheese, cheese spreads and sauces; cottage cheese. You may alternate them with milk, yogurt, ice cream, and ice milk; low-sodium cheeses, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella.
3. Bread, Grains, and Cereals
High-sodium foods include bread and rolls with salted tops; quick bread, self-rising flour, biscuit, pancake and waffle mixes; pizza, croutons and salted crackers; prepackaged, processed mixes for potatoes, rice, pasta, and stuffing. Substitute with that food: bread, bagels, and rolls without salted tops; muffins and most ready-to-eat cereals; all rice and pasta, but do not add salt when cooking.
4. Vegetables and Fruits
High-sodium vegetables and fruits: regular canned vegetables and vegetable juices; olives, pickles, sauerkraut, and other pickled vegetables; vegetables made with ham, bacon or salted pork; packaged mixes, such as scalloped or au gratin potatoes, frozen hash browns, and Tater Tots; commercially prepared pasta and tomato sauces and salsa. Here’re the substitutes: fresh and frozen vegetables without sauces; fresh potatoes, frozen French fries, and instant mashed potatoes; low-salt tomato or V-8 juice; most fresh, frozen and canned fruit; dried fruits.
5. Fats, Desserts, and Sweets
Here are the foods you may consume every day but also contain high sodium: soy sauce, seasoning salt, other sauces, and marinades; bottled salad dressings, regular salad dressing with bacon bits; salted butter or margarine; instant pudding and cake; large portions of ketchup, mustard. Have these as alternatives: vinegar, unsalted butter or margarine; vegetable oils and low sodium sauces and salad dressings; mayonnaise; all desserts made without salt.