Foods Suitable for a Low Sodium Diet
Most of us have heard the doctor say, “Eat less salt, too much of it is bad for your blood pressure”. So we know that eating more salt means more risk of having high blood pressure.
But Why Does Salt Affect Blood Pressure?
Chemically, salt is a mineral composed mostly of sodium chloride (NaCl) and is one of the essential nutrients vital to our health. Table salt, the type of salt used daily, is a refined salt containing about 97 to 99 percent sodium chloride (out of which sodium is 40 %). Sodium is an essential mineral that plays an active role in many important bodily functions such as maintaining blood pressure, cellular function, fluid regulation, and electrolyte balance.
Now when we eat salt, it raises the amount of sodium in the bloodstream which results in extra fluid in the body and puts extra pressure on the blood vessels that carry blood throughout our body. This extra water stored in the body raises the blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure, the greater the strain on your heart, arteries, kidneys, and brain. High blood pressure can lead to heart attacks, strokes, dementia and kidney disease.
Why Are The Low-Sodium Diets Prescribed?
Sodium is present in most foods that we eat, especially packaged, pre-processed foods, where extra salt is added for preservation and enhancing flavour. Another major contributor to our salt intake is adding salt to food while preparing meals. Natural plant-based foods such as green vegetables, fruits have less salt compared to animal-based foods such as meat and dairy products.
As high sodium levels in the bloodstream are connected to high blood pressure, it is recommended to watch the amount of salt that is consumed per day. Ideally, daily salt intake should be less than 2-3 grams (2000 – 3000 mg).
Generally, low sodium diets are prescribed by doctors to treat certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart conditions, kidney problems, etc.
What Are The Benefits Of A Low-Sodium Diet?
- Keeps High Blood Pressure In Check – A low sodium diet may help lower blood pressure for people suffering from high blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic numbers).
- Lowers Risk Of Cancer – Some studies show that a high salt diet can damage the lining of the stomach and increase the growth of H.Pylori bacteria which may raise the risk of contracting stomach cancer.
- Improves Food Quality – Most packaged, processed foods contain large amounts of salt for preservation and enhancing flavour. These are what we call as junk food. When you start on a low sodium diet, these junk foods automatically get eliminated from your daily diet.
What Can You Eat On A Low Sodium Diet?
Plenty actually. Most people who are prescribed a low sodium diet are skeptical as they think they will have to eat bland, tasteless food. But in reality, there are lots of healthy, nutritious yet tasty low sodium foods such as fresh vegetables, fruits, dairy products, eggs and unsalted nuts that are naturally low in sodium, which can be consumed. Here are some more foods suitable for a low sodium diet –
Foods To Avoid If You Have High Blood Pressure:
All foods that are high on sodium content increase the risk of high blood pressure and should be avoided. These include –
Experts recommend that normal adults should consume only 2,300 mg of salt per day. For elderly people and those suffering from high blood pressure the limit of salt intake should be 1,500 mg per day.
A low sodium diet does help to control high blood pressure levels. But that does not mean that you eliminate salt completely from your diet. Because consuming too little salt may also lead to health issues such as increased cholesterol and triglycerides, insulin resistance and hyponatremia (too little sodium in the blood).
The best option is to strike a good balance in your everyday food intake. Eliminate high sodium, unhealthy foods and include low sodium, high fiber fresh & whole foods in your daily diet plan.
Note of caution: This article is for information purposes only. Always consult your doctor before altering any diet plans, medications or in case of any other blood pressure-related troubles.