Low Sodium Diet : Benefits And Ways To Implement It

Before we know the importance of low sodium diet, lets explore why Sodium is important for us. Sodium is a nutrient that performs several vital functions in the body. It is commonly consumed in the form of table salt. The right levels of sodium in the body aid in the upkeep of normal cellular homeostasis in the body. It balances electrolyte content, and blood pressure in the body.

However, when its levels increase in the body, it leads to hypertension, modified kidney function, stiffness in arteries, impaired brain function and stroke in the body. Due to this reason, it is very important to maintain the right levels of sodium in the diet. A low-sodium diet helps bring down the risky levels of sodium concentration in the body.

Usefulness Of Sodium In The Body

Sodium is an important mineral that performs many essential functions in your body. It is a main component of fruits, vegetables, eggs, table salt etc. Sodium is also helpful in regulating fluid balance and various vital functions such as maintaining normal cellular homeostasis, balancing electrolyte content, and blood pressure in the body.

People who are struggling with health conditions, such as heart failure, kidney ailment, high blood pressure etc. are advised to reduce their sodium intake. A low-sodium diet is helpful for them to reduce the difficult complications linked to these ailments. It helps to maintain the right fluid and electrolyte balance in the body too.

Meanwhile, if you are interested in vegan diet, then here is a detailed guide on benefits of vegan diet plan.

Consequences of Excessive Sodium In The Body

The following are the health issues that you will notice when sodium content becomes dangerously high in the body.

  1. Too much sodium disturbs the fluid balance in the body.
  2. When the sodium content goes high, it extracts the water from the blood to the blood vessels. This causes an increase in blood volume. This, in turn, leads to high blood pressure or hypertension in the body.
  3. It has been scientifically proven that high blood pressure translates to the possibilities of the development of cardiovascular ailment in the body.
  4. Our kidneys are responsible to control sodium levels based on the concentration of fluids in the body. Excess consumption of salt causes water retention that increases pressure on the kidney. When this condition persists for a long time, it impairs the filtering ability of kidneys and results in renal failure.
  5. Excess sodium in the body can also result in various types of problems that include insulin resistance, leptin resistance, obesity, metabolic disorders, and fatty liver.
  6. Studies performed in the past have proved that people who eat salty foods may reduce blood flow in the cerebral region. It can also lower memory retention ability.

Dietary Source Of Sodium

Here are ways in which you can consume sodium. These foods have naturally occurring sodium in low amounts. They are safe to consume. The risky ones are the processed foods that contain high sodium content.  

Natural sources of Sodium (in low levels)

  1. Plant-based foods that include fruits, and vegetables. have low amounts of salt levels.
  2. Animal-based foods, that include dairy and meat products.

Processed and other ways of consuming Sodium (in high levels)

  1. Sodium is found in large amounts in packaged, and processed foods that include chips, fast food, and frozen dinners where salt is added in food processing to improve flavor.
  2. Addition of extra sodium to food or using it as a seasoning at the time of preparing meals.

What Is The Permissible Level Of Sodium To Consume?

Excess levels of sodium are responsible for various health-related discomforts in the body. Due to this reason, it is important to restrict your sodium intake to below 2 to 3 grams a day. Based on this limit, make food selections in your diet that keep your sodium level within permissible limits.

Who Will Benefit By Low-Sodium Diet?

Low-sodium diets are beneficial in regulating or improving specific medical conditions in the body.

1. Kidney Disease

High levels of sodium can lead to acute kidney diseases, like kidney failure in the body. It adversely impacts the functioning of the kidney in the body. Impaired kidneys are not able to remove high levels of sodium from your body.

When sodium level crosses permissible limits in the body, then it builds pressure in the blood. This causes damage to your malfunctioning kidneys. Reducing sodium in the body help reduce blood pressure and release of protein in the urine. In this way, it can prevent kidney failure in the body.

2. High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure puts you at risk of developing conditions that include stroke, and heart ailments. A diet rich in sodium is associated with raised blood pressure and excretion of significant levels of sodium by way of urine.

Studies have proved that by lowering salt consumption you can reduce high blood pressure. Transitioning to a low-sodium diet can lead to a substantial reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. This is very beneficial for people who suffer from ailments that are caused due to high sodium levels in the body.

3. Cancer Patients

High-salt diets are also associated with specific forms of cancers, especially stomach cancer. According to the research, high-salt diets can harm the mucus lining of the stomach and causes soreness in them. It leads to the development of microorganisms that are responsible to cause stomach cancer. On the contrary, a diet low in sodium and rich in vegetables, and fruits can reduce the possibilities of stomach cancer.

4. Heart Disease

Low-sodium diets are prescribed to people with heart problems such as heart failure, blocked arteries, shortness of breath, etc. Eating excess salt causes an overload of fluid in people who suffer from cardiac failure. People who followed a diet that has sodium consumption below 2,500 mg per day showed a significant reduction in heart diseases.

High Sodium Foods To Avoid

A low sodium diet helps in enhancing the quality of your diet. It focusses on reducing salt intake. When you consume less sodium, you can effectively manage sodium levels in the body. The basic principle of a low sodium diet is to avoid high-sodium foods in your diet. This is done by restricting your consumption of salty snacks, processed foods, packed meals, and junk food.

Here is a list of foods that are high in sodium that you should avoid:

  • All types of fast food, salty snacks, ready-to-eat foods such as Macaroni, rice meals, pasta meals etc. and frozen foods
  • Processed and frozen meats that include bacon, lunch meats, hot dogs, and sausage
  • Salted, and canned vegetables, meats, pasta, and fish
  • Salty soups that include packaged and canned soups
  • Cheese, and cheese products such as cottage cheese, cheese sauce, cheese spreads,
  • Salted butter
  • Sodium rich foods such as salted rolls, croutons, crackers, and salted bagels
  • Baked foods: waffle, pancake/cake mix, chips, etc.
  • Sauces: Gravy, salad dressing, commercial tomato sauce, salsa, and soy sauce,
  • Pickled vegetables such as pickles, sauerkraut, and olives
  • Drinks like juice blends and salted alcoholic beverages
  • Seasonings that are made with salt and/or salt blends

Low-Sodium Foods to Relish

A low-sodium diet comprises of foods that have low amounts of sodium in them. A diet that includes the following foods is ideal for people who have high sodium levels in the body.  A low-sodium diet is safe to eat when you suffer from heart issues, cardiovascular ailments, hypertension and more.

  • Fresh vegetables like leafy greens, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, etc. and low-sodium homemade, or canned soups.
  • Fresh fruits such as pears, berries, bananas, apples, etc.
  • Grains: Brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and quinoa.
  • Beans: Kidney beans, chickpeas, black beans, etc.
  • Starchy vegetables: Sweet potatoes, parsnips, and potatoes.
  • Fresh and frozen meat: Turkey, pork, beef or chicken.
  • Fresh and frozen fish: Tuna, shellfish, cod etc.
  • Egg whites and whole eggs.
  • Unsaturated Fats: Olive oil, avocado and avocado oil.
  • Dairy food items: Milk, low-sodium cheeses, yogurt, and unsalted butter
  • Baked products: Whole-wheat bread, unsalted snacks, and low-sodium tortillas.
  • Unsalted seeds, and nuts that include pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and almonds.
  • Low-salt snack foods: Unsalted pretzels, unsalted popcorn and unsalted tortilla chips.
  • Low-salt condiments that include vinegar, low-salt salad dressing, mayonnaise, and low-salt sauces.
  • Low-salt beverages: Tea, unsalted vegetable juice, herbal tea, coffee, and water.
  • Low-salt seasonings: Garlic powder, spices, unsalted blends and herbs.

Instructions To Reduce Your Sodium Consumption

If you are on a low-sodium diet, then making meals appetizing can be a challenge. However, there are several simple food preparation and cooking tips that can make your food wonderful without salt.

  • Use lemon juice to substitute salt in the food.
  • Cook with fresh herbs in place of salt.
  • Use olive oil, and citrus juices for salad dressing.
  • Eat unsalted nuts. To make it more delicious you can sprinkle your choice of herbs on it.
  • Prepare homemade soups and add garlic and ginger to make it more flavorful. Season it with natural herbs.
  • Use fresh produce in food preparation.
  • Make a low-salt marinade with honey, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and ginger.
  • Eating homemade meals is a good way to control your salt consumption. It also reduces body fat and results in better diet quality than restaurant meals.
  • Reduce salt in your diet. Also, avoid adding extra salt to your food.
  • Avoid using various types of salts such as barbeque sauce, onion salt, garlic salt, lime salt, kimchi, broth cubes, noodle taste maker, sauerkraut, and pickles.
  • Use lemon, orange, and lime to tenderize your meat.
  • Always read the markers of packaged, canned foods, seasoning mixes, spices, and pasta seasonings. Foods that have below 140 mg sodium content per serving are ideal to eat.
  • Avoid ready-to-eat soups
  • Refrain from using salt substitutes.
  • Avoid tacos, bread rolls, burritos, sandwiches, cured meats, pizza, cold cuts, and soups

What To Eat And How Much To Eat In A Low-Sodium Diet

A low-sodium diet focuses on limiting sodium consumption to permissible limits in place of eliminating this nutrient from the diet. Below are the basic guidelines to incorporate the right amounts of salt in your daily diet.

1. Fruits and Vegetables

  • 4 to 5 different types of vegetables
  • 3 different fruits
  • half a cup of chopped fruits/ frozen vegetables
  • 1 serving of tomato sauce (low-salt variety)

2. Protein

  • Include protein with each meal
  • 2 to 3 ounces of shrimp, chicken, or fish
  • half a cup of low-sodium canned fish.
  • 1 egg
  • half a cup of cooked legumes

3. Dairy

  • 1 or 2 servings of dairy products
  • 1 cup milk,
  • 2 oz low-sodium cheese
  • half a cup of cottage cheese
  • 1 cup of soy milk

4. Bread, and Grains

  • Sine slice of low-sodium bread
  • One low-salt bagel
  • half a cup of rice
  • One serving of low-salt crackers

5. Snacks

  • half a cup of unsalted popcorn, low-sodium potato chips, pretzels etc.
  • 5 oz salt-free nuts
  • Permissible in limited amounts of low-salt foods such as butter, sauces, soups, and salad dressing

6. Condiments

Use Vinegar, and lemon juice

7. Oils

Rice bran oil, avocado oil, and olive oil

What To Choose While Eating At A Restaurant?

Here is the list of things that you should eat and avoid when dining at a restaurant:

Foods To Avoid

Broths, soups, bread baskets, kimchi, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, high-sodium sauces, high-sodium cakes, desserts, foods with garlic salt, onion salt, and lime salt, one-pot dishes and casseroles. Also, avoid going to fast-food joints, and buffets.

Foods To Eat

Fresh salads with light-dressing and (without salt), fruits, and freshly pressed fruit juice. Choose poultry or shellfish in grilled, roasted or boiled form.

Lifestyle Changes To Balance Sodium Levels In The Body

Along with dietary modifications, a healthy lifestyle is also important to balance sodium levels in the body Below are some of the effective ways to modify your lifestyle healthily.

  • Choose a low-sodium diet program.
  • Prefer homemade food over eating out at a restaurant
  • Be regular in your medicines.
  • Perform the regular exercise as suggested by your doctor.
  • Manage stress, by practicing stress-relieving exercises such as meditation and yoga.

Side Effects Of Low Sodium Levels In The Body

Sodium is a vital mineral and it has to be at adequate levels in the body. Do not refrain from it or consume it less than permissible limits. This is because low sodium levels in the body can cause high levels of triglycerides, and cholesterol in the body. It leads to insulin resistance and the development of a health condition “hyponatremia”. Elimination of fast foods and high-sodium foods can be a good way to prevent a spike in sodium levels in the body.

Conclusion

Sodium is an essential mineral that is responsible to perform several important functions in the body. Therefore, elimination of table salt from the diet is not the solution. Instead, you should replace high-sodium foods with low-sodium foods. A low-sodium diet is an effective way to improve health in countless ways.

You will begin to experience the transformation in only a few days. The above list of healthy and unhealthy sodium foods, and lifestyle tips will help in keeping sodium levels in check. For a healthy and fit body, start trying this diet today.

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