Let’s Talk about Sodium Intake

low-sodium foodsSodium. It’s a substance that people are told to limit when they visit the doctor, especially if they have any type of heart problem or high blood pressure. The reason that sodium, found in table salt and much more, as we will see, should be limited is because it causes the body to retain water. This retention places stress on the heart and blood vessels. Depending on the state of your heart health, your doctor may advise you to limit intake to less than 2,400 mg per day, less than 1,500 per day, or to cut sodium out entirely. Just to set a guideline, there is 1,150 mg of sodium in just half a teaspoon of salt.

You’re not a salt-shaker? That doesn’t mean you’re safe from sodium. In fact, a large percentage of our excessive sodium intake in this country comes from our consumption of processed foods. The American Heart Association has a list they call “The Salty Six,” which includes the top sodium-containing foods. These are:

  • Packaged or prepared soup
  • Bread
  • Pizza
  • Poultry
  • Cured meats and packaged lunch meat
  • Sandwiches

Cutting out sodium can be difficult if you aren’t sure what to look for. Foods that you wouldn’t describe as salty may have more sodium than you think, including olives, pickles, salad dressings, and frozen dinners.

Making New Habits

Heart healthy choices increase your quality of life! Here are some tips for making new habits in choosing low-sodium foods:

  • Cook fresh more often than not. We are fortunate to have options in low-sodium meats, and for meat that has no added sodium. Consider making your purchases straight from a butcher who offers grass-fed options.
  • Avoid packaged foods as much as possible, and choose prepared foods carefully. This comes down to reading labels. Some may say “low sodium” and others may say “no salt added.” Make sure you also do not see ingredients such as Monosodium glutamate (MSG) or Disodium phosphate.
  • When purchasing frozen, opt out of packaging with terms such as “sodium solution,” “saline,” or “broth.” Unseasoned, fresh meats are your healthiest option.
  • Even healthier for the heart is a low-meat Mediterranean diet!
  • When cooking fresh at home, season foods with spices and herbs instead of salt-based seasoning.
  • When eating out, ask for low or no salt to be added to your dish. If you choose fresh greens for your meal, ask for dressing on the side.

Staying heart-healthy takes practice, but not much. The team at Premier Cardiology Consultants is here to support you.


Posted in: Health and Wellness

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