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Low Sodium Diet : What Would be the right balance ?

A low sodium diet is an unavoidable topic when it comes to speak about healthy diet. It’s even more the case when people suffer from chronic diseases. However most of us consume up to twice more than recommended daily salt intake. Often without even paying attention. Of course our body needs a small amount of salt to healthy working, in order to bring balance in the fluids of our organism. What is the good amount of sodium and which food to prioritize?

low sodium diet

Written by: Ana Kristensen


1.1 Low sodium diet and its link to blood pressure

About one out of three people is sensitive to the sodium found in salt. This means that the excess salt consumed by these people can increase the amount of blood circulating in their arteries, increase their blood pressure, and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. 

If you can gradually reduce every day your salt consumption, you could lower your blood pressure. Because the salt amount contended in our food is high , everybody, even those who have a normal blood pressure can benefit of a low sodium diet.


1.2 How can I tell how much sodium I’m eating?

You can find the amount of sodium in your food by looking at the Nutrition Facts label. The amount of sodium per serving is listed in milligrams (or mg). Check the ingredient list for words like “sodium,” “salt” and “soda.” The total sodium shown on the Nutrition Facts label includes the sodium from salt, plus the sodium from any other sodium-containing ingredient in the product. For example, this includes ingredients like sodium nitrate, sodium citrate, monosodium glutamate (MSG) or sodium benzoate.

Remember to take note of the serving size on the Nutrition Facts label. If your portion size equals two servings of a product, you’re actually eating double the sodium listed. 

If you can gradually reduce every day your salt consumption, you could lower your blood pressure. Because the salt amount contended in our food is high , everybody, even those who have a normal blood pressure can benefit of a low sodium diet. (1)


1.3 How much sodium should I eat per day?

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day and moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults.

Because the average American eats so much excess sodium, even cutting back by 1,000 milligrams a day can significantly improve blood pressure and heart health.

And remember, more than 70 percent of the sodium Americans eat comes from packaged, prepared and restaurant foods — not the salt shaker. 

On average, Americans eat more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day — much more than the American Heart Association and other health organizations recommend. Most of us are likely underestimating how much sodium we eat, if we can estimate it at all. (1)


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1.4 Food with high amount of sodium

Taking the decision to lower your daily sodium intake is a great step forward in your journey for a better health. But you still need to know which are the food to avoid. Bellow a list of the most common food containing a high amount of salt. 

  • – Fast food ( also known as junk food)
  • – Ready meals
  • – Processed meats
  • – Canned soups
  • – Ready dressing
  • – Condiments (sauces, ketchup and marinades)
  • – Chips 


1.5 Tips for reducing your sodium intake

  • (1) Eat less ready meals or processed foods.
  • (2) Look for products with displaying mentions such “low sodium”, “reduced sodium” or “no added salt”. If a product claims to be reduced in sodium, take the time to check the Nutrition Facts.
  • (3) Go for fresh fruits and vegetables
  • (4) Reduce the amount of salt when you’re cooking
  • (5) Try other seasonings like garlic, lemon juice, and fresh or dried herbs.
  • (6) When dining out, ask for the nutritional value of dishes and choose those that contain the least sodium.

1.6 Is there such a thing as eating too little sodium?

  • Worried that you’re not getting enough sodium? It’s not likely. There’s no reliable evidence that eating less than 1,500 mg per day of sodium is a risk for the general population. 
    The body needs only a small amount of sodium (less than 500 milligrams per day) to function properly. That’s a mere smidgen — the amount in less than ¼ teaspoon. Very few people come close to eating less than that amount. Plus, healthy kidneys are great at retaining the sodium that your body needs. 

    The guideline to reduce to 1,500 mg may not apply to people who lose big amounts of sodium in sweat, like competitive athletes, and workers exposed to major heat stress, such as foundry workers and fire fighters, or to those directed otherwise by their healthcare provider. There is some evidence that it could be harmful to certain patients with congestive heart failure.(2)

    If you have a medical conditions or other special dietary needs or restrictions, you should follow the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

Before starting any diet, consult your doctor to find out how much sodium you should consume on a daily basis.


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Written by: Ana Kristensen





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