What is sodium?
Sodium is an important electrolyte for our body to work normally. It is the main ingredient in table salt. It is also found in lots of foods, and even in water.Low sodium diet is good for your health.
Who should cut down on sodium?
Nearly everyone eats too much sodium. Experts say that most people should have no more than 2,300 milligrams a day. Always ask your doctor how much sodium you should have.
Why should I cut down on sodium?
Reducing the amount of sodium you eat can have lots of health benefits:
- It can lower your blood pressure, which means it can help reduce your risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, and lots of other health problems.
- It can reduce the amount of fluid in your body, which means that your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to push a lot of fluid around.
- It can keep the kidneys from having to work too hard. This is especially important in people who have kidney disease.
- It can reduce swelling in the ankles and belly, which can be uncomfortable and make it hard to move.
- It can reduce the chances of forming kidney stones.
- It can help keep your bones strong.
Which foods have the most sodium?
Processed foods have the most sodium. These foods usually come in cans, boxes, jars, and bags. They tend to have a lot of sodium even if they don’t taste salty. In fact, many sweet foods have a lot of sodium in them. Always check the Labels to know how much sodium is present in the given processed food items.
Here are some examples of foods that often have too much sodium:
- Canned soups
- Pre-made frozen meals
- pickled foods
- Salted nuts
- Beans canned with salt added
- Regular and processed cheese, cheese spreads and sauces
- Cottage cheese
What should I do to reduce the amount of sodium in my diet?
The most important thing you can do to cut down on sodium is to eat less processed foods that are sold in cans, boxes, jars, and bags.
Many people think that avoiding the salt shaker and not adding salt to their food means that they are eating a low-sodium diet. This is not true. Not adding salt at the table or when cooking will help a little. But almost all of the sodium you eat is already in the food you buy at the grocery store or at restaurants.
Avoid buying pre-made, processed foods. Buy meat, fish, chicken that are fresh instead of canned. Then try making meals from scratch at home using these low-sodium ingredients.
Also, whatever changes you make, make them slowly. Choose one thing to do differently, and do that for a while. If that change sticks, add another change. For instance, if you usually eat green beans from a can, try buying fresh or fresh-frozen green beans and cooking them at home without adding salt. If that works for you, keep doing it. Then choose another thing to change. If it doesn’t work, don’t give up. See if you can cut down on sodium another way. The important thing is to take small steps and to stick with the changes that work for you.
What if I really like to eat out?
You can still eat in restaurants once in a while. But choose places that offer healthier choices. Fast-food places are almost always a bad idea.
What if food just does not taste as good without sodium?
First of all, give it time. Your taste buds can get used to having less sodium, but you have to give them a chance to adjust. Also try other flavorings, such as herbs and spices, lemon juice, and vinegar.
What about salt substitutes?
Do not use salt substitutes unless your doctor approves. Some salt substitutes can be dangerous to your health, especially if you take certain medicines.
Do medicines have sodium?
Yes, some medicines have sodium. If you are buying medicines you can get without a prescription, look to see how much sodium they have. Avoid products that have “sodium carbonate” or “sodium bicarbonate” unless your doctor prescribes them. Sodium bicarbonate is baking soda.