A low-sodium diet includes avoiding foods with a high amount of sodium, including processed foods, frozen meals and entrees, canned foods and boxed side dishes.
According to the American Heart Association, processed foods account for more than 70 percent of our daily sodium intake. Avoiding these foods as much as possible can help reduce the amount of sodium you ingest significantly.
- Canned foods (meats, soups, beef stew, and pasta meals)
- Frozen meals, entrees, and pizza
- Boxed package meals and side dishes (boxed pasta, rice, and potato mixes and meal helpers)
- Deli and processed meats (hot dogs, frozen fish patties, sausages, bacon, and luncheon meat)
- Cheese, especially processed cheese and cheese slices
- Limit fast food meals because they usually have 1,000 milligrams of sodium in one go
- Readymade sauces and gravies should be avoided at all costs
- Casserole/mixture dishes such as pasta dishes or stir-fry dishes with sauce should be avoided
Limit ketchup and ready-to-use dressings:
- Salad dressings, barbecue sauce, and soy sauce
Limit pickled or brine-based foods:
- Pickles, sauerkraut, and pickled foods
Limit some bread products that have high sodium content:
- Biscuits, pancakes, waffles, and flour tortillas
- Baked goods (crackers, croutons, rolls, and bagels)
- Salted snacks
- Pickled vegetables
- Boxed meals or mixes
- Flavored salts and monosodium glutamate
Additionally, foods should not be seasoned with table salt. Although sodium occurs naturally, much of it is added during the processing and preparation of foods. Sodium levels in canned, processed foods can be high. Furthermore, many foods that do not have a salty flavor can still be high in sodium. Read food labels on mixed spices to ensure that no salt has been added.
What is a low-sodium diet?
A low-sodium diet restricts the amount of salt (sodium) you consume to a maximum of 2,300 milligrams per day, which is roughly equivalent to one teaspoon of table salt. Some low-sodium diets allow an intake of only 1,500 milligrams of salt in a day.
Sodium is a mineral that can be found in various foods. While our bodies require sodium to function properly, too much of it can be harmful to our health and nutrition. When following a low-sodium diet, always prioritize fresh fruits and vegetables. They are naturally low in sodium and provide a good source of nutrients.
The following foods may be suitable for a low-sodium diet:
All fresh vegetables
- Canned and frozen vegetables without added salt
- Low-sodium vegetable juices
- Fresh citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons
- Dried beans and peas
Lower sodium dairy choices
- Plain yogurt
- Hard cheese such as Swiss, cheddar, and Monterey Jack
- Low-sodium cheese such as ricotta, cream cheese, and mozzarella
Meats and beans
- Fresh or frozen beef, lamb, pork, poultry, fish, and shellfish
- Eggs and egg substitutes
- Low-sodium peanut butter
- Dried peas and beans
- Unsalted nuts
Fats and oils
- Low-sodium or unsalted butter and margarine spreads
- Low-sodium salad dressings made with oil
Snacks, sweets, and condiments
- Low-sodium or unsalted versions of popcorn, crackers, broths, soups, soy sauce, condiments, and snack foods
- Pepper, herbs, spices, vinegar, lemon or lime juice
- Ice cream, sherbet, homemade pie, and pudding without added salt
Onions and garlic
- They add rich, savory flavor to recipes naturally
- One-quarter of onion has about 10 milligrams of sodium.
Weight loss occurs in the belly before anywhere else.
What are the benefits of a low-sodium diet?
Choosing a low-salt diet is much better for your overall health because exceeding the recommended daily allowance can cause health problems.
Here are the health benefits of regularly consuming low-sodium foods:
- Prevents heart failure
- Reduces the risk of stroke
- Lowers high blood pressure
- Reduces kidney stones
- Aids in weight loss
- Maintains electrolyte balance
- Keeps you energized all day long
- Protects your vision
A low-sodium diet is advantageous for people who have various diseases and certain factors, such as:
- Those with a family history of heart disease
- Those of African descent
- Those who smoke and frequently drink alcohol
- Those who are overweight or do not exercise regularly
- Those who live with a lot of unmanaged stress
The people listed above are all at a higher risk of high blood pressure and should consider a low-sodium diet. Additionally, a low-sodium diet is required for people with kidney problems to avoid fluid retention.
In comparison, some athletes and others who exercise frequently and consume very little sodium while drinking a lot of water may be at risk of hyponatremia, a condition in which the body lacks sodium. Low-sodium levels, although uncommon, can cause headache, nausea, lethargy, confusion, muscle twitching, and convulsions.