Below, Physio Logic’s Clinical Nutritionist, Michelle Miller, MSACN; and Nutritional Educator & Registered Dietitian, Rachel Naar, RD, shake out some facts to learn about sodium, why we should limit it, and some healthful alternatives to promote heart health.
What is sodium anyways?
Sodium is a mineral found naturally in foods (celery, beets) and is the major part (50%) of table salt.
Should I be limiting my sodium?
Some salt or sodium is needed for body water balance. But when too much sodium comes into the body you may experience:
- intensive thirst
- fluid gain/retention (puffiness)
- shortness of breath
- kidney and/or liver damage
- fluid accumulation around heart and lungs
- high blood pressure
Having less sodium in your diet may help you lower or avoid high blood pressure. Individuals with high blood pressure are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.
So how much can I eat?
Most people are generally overeating sodium. A bag of chips here, a canned soup there (one of the biggest culprits). A heart healthy diet should aim to have no more than 1500-2000 mg of sodium per day.
Salt is the main source of sodium, be sure to read your nutrition labels on packages to find out how much sodium you’re consuming. Be mindful though. You’ll see sodium amounts for 1 serving, but if you’re eating more than 1 serving, you’re getting more sodium.
Nutrition Labels- What does it all mean?
Understanding the terms:
- Sodium Free – Trivial amount of sodium per serving
- Very Low Sodium – 35 mg or less per serving.
- Low Sodium – 140 mg or less per serving
- Reduced Sodium – sodium is reduced by 25% from original food item
- Light or Lite in Sodium – sodium is reduced by at least 50% from original food item
Note: If salt is listed in the first five ingredients, the item is probably very high in sodium.
How can I reduce sodium in my diet?
- Use fresh, rather than packaged or highly processed deli meats
- Choose fresh fruit and vegetables
- If utilizing canned version, opt for a low-sodium option
- When buying frozen vegetables, choose those that are labeled “fresh frozen” and do not contain added salt
- Select spices or seasonings that do not list sodium on their labels
- Ex. garlic powder vs. garlic salt.
- Request no added salt be added when you’re eating out
- Scrutinize labels
Create your own seasonings
- 3 Tbsp. celery seed
- 1 Tbsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp. crushed oregano
- 1 Tbsp. crushed thyme
- 1 ½ Tsp. ground bay leaf
- 1 ½ Tsp. black pepper
- 1 ½ Tsp. ground cloves
If you’re looking to make more informed decisions about your heart health and diet, we invite you to speak with a member of our Nutrition Department. You can start by filling out the form below.