You may have been told by your health care professional to reduce the sodium, or salt, in your diet. Most people eat too much sodium, often without knowing it. Reducing the amount of sodium in your diet can help you lower or avoid high blood pressure.
Your body needs sodium to work properly. It’s regulated in the body by your kidneys, and it helps control your body’s fluid balance. It also plays a key role in nerve and muscle function.
But too much sodium in your system causes your body to retain (hold onto) water. This may cause puffiness, bloating and weight gain.
How does too much sodium affect my heart health?
When there’s extra sodium in your bloodstream, it pulls water into your blood vessels, increasing the amount of blood inside your blood vessels. With more blood flowing through your blood vessels, blood pressure increases. In some people, this may lead to or raise high blood pressure.
Having less sodium in your diet may help you lower or avoid high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
How can I cook with less salt and more flavor?
- Avoid adding table salt to foods.
- Flavor foods with herbs, spices, lemon, lime, vinegar or salt-free seasoning blends.
The Salty Six
Watch out for the “Salty 6” – the top six common foods that add the most salt to your diet.
• Breads and rolls
• Cold cuts and cured meats
• Burritos and tacos
These are some other foods can also be sources of “hidden” sodium:
• Cheeses and buttermilk
• Canned vegetables
• Frozen dinners and snack foods
• Condiments (ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise)
• Sauces, such as barbecue, soy, steak and Worcestershire
See the attached PDF from the American Heart Association for more details: