Sodium is an essential mineral in terms of body function, but too much of it can cause health problems. A doctor may recommend a low-sodium diet for many reasons but the most common reasons for limiting sodium include high blood pressure and fluid retention. Fortunately, low sodium diets do not need to eat special foods or supplements-they simply limit sodium intake. While following a low sodium diet may at first feel complicated, many get the hang of it quickly when they get to know what sodium measurements mean and how to interpret them on food labels.
Sodium content on food labels
A low sodium diet comprises no more than 2000 milligrams (2 grams) of sodium per day. Food labels always list the sodium amount for one serving in milligrams, usually right under the entries for fat and cholesterol. When patients do not have time to manually track their sodium intake when reading food labels, they can use this as a guide, low-sodium is characterized as a sodium amount of 140 mg or less, while “no sodium” is 5 mg or less . Try to avoid foods with sodium amounts more than 140 mg.
Making good food choices
While a low sodium diet is not as restrictive as one might think, after such a diet requires exercise some common sense when it comes to food choices. For example, some baked goods as types of croissants and muffins are considered low sodium, but this does not mean they should be daily diet staples. Generally, low sodium foods are fresh and whole, not packed. If they are wrapped, they should be eaten in great moderation, especially if they fall over 140mg cutoff. Some foods to avoid include cured meats like bacon and ham, most frozen dinners, hot dogs, most canned soups and bag snacks like potato chips. When eating out, take a look at the eating-out guide at www. lowsaltfoods. com to make better choices.
Many salt substitutes are available for those who are not quite ready to give up common table salt and salt substitutes may be used in certain diet food. However, they can cause problems for some patients because salt substitutes tendency to replace sodium with potassium. Consult a doctor to ensure that this increased potassium will not interfere with any medications or aggravate existing medical conditions.