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Healthy Eating

Here you will find tons of information about healthy eating and incorporating the principles of healthy nutrition into your daily life. Built around Dr. Cederquist’s nutritional foundation for healthy weight loss, these articles place a wealth of information right at your fingertips.

Low-Sodium Diet & Heart Health

Following a low-sodium diet often causes on overwhelming concern of long hours in the kitchen only to produce dull and bland foods. But with a few tips and offerings from bistroMD, eating for heart health has never been easier (or tastier)!

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Sodium is a mineral and electrolyte balances and normalizes fluids in the body. Sodium also helps send nerve impulses and impacts muscle function.

With such significant roles of sodium for health, why would one lower it in the diet?

What is a Low-Sodium Diet?

Overall, the Americanized diet consumes too much sodium in the forms of convenience, processed foods. In fact, the average American consumes approximately 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium daily.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) and American Heart Association (AHA) recommend 2,300 mg per day. What's more, the AHA encourages adults to work towards 1,500 mg daily.

The recommended amount of sodium intake likewise varies based on age, race, and diagnosed chronic diseases. Individuals aged 51 and older and African American are encouraged to reduce sodium intake to 1,500 mg per day. People diagnosed with diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease are often recommended to 1,500 mg or less daily.

If prescribed to a low-sodium diet or trying to cut down on intake, use these general guidelines:

1. Know and Reduce High-Sodium Foods:
Knowing where sodium resides and hides can help individuals make more mindful decisions. Sodium is commonly added and sourced in condiments such as ketchup and tomato, pasta, BBQ, and soy sauces. Also watch out for foods that are fermented, cured, smoked, or pickled, including sauerkraut, pickles, cheeses, and lunch meats.

2. Purchase Fresh Foods:
Reduce packaged and processed products and purchase more fresh foods. Following diet recommendations from the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet can naturally reduce the consumption of salt. Recommended foods include whole grains, fruits and veggies, low- or non-fat dairy products, fish and poultry, legumes, nuts and seeds.

3. Check Food Labels:
Food labels help consumers identify sodium content, particularly on packaged and boxed foods. These sodium claims are often found on food labels and can help guide food choices:

• Sodium-Free: Less than 5 mg per serving

• Salt-Free: Meets requirements for sodium-free

• Low-Sodium: 140 mg sodium or less per serving

• Very Low-Sodium: 35 mg or less per serving

Additionally, check the mg of sodium per serving on the Nutrition Facts label to evaluate the product. Additional sodium descriptions include the following:

• Reduced Sodium: Contains at least 25 percent less sodium compared to the regular version of the product

• Light in Sodium: Contains 50 percent less sodium per serving compared to the sodium in a regular version of the product

• Unsalted, without Added Salt, and No Salt Added: No salt is used in the processing of the product. The product would normally be processed with salt (such as unsalted pretzels versus regular pretzels). This does not entitle the product to be "sodium-free."

4. Use Fresh Herbs and Seasonings:
Just one teaspoon of table salt contains 2,300 mg of salt! So, reduce sodium and amplify flavor by swapping out the salt shaker with seasonings. Spice it up in the kitchen to amply flavor without using sauces and condiments typically loaded with sodium, fat, and sugar.

5. Consider Other Nutrients:
Though sodium has strong ties to hypertension and heart health, so do other nutrients. For instance, including more potassium in the diet can naturally reduce high blood pressure. Low intakes of both calcium and magnesium have also been linked to greater rates of high blood pressure. Fiber and omega-3 fatty acids likewise protect heart health.

How Does Sodium Affect Heart Health?

Following a low-sodium diet is often recommended to support heart health. The American Heart Association explains, "When there is extra sodium in your bloodstream, it pulls water into your blood vessels, increasing the total amount (volume) of blood inside them and with more blood flowing through your blood vessels, blood pressure increases."

The AHA uses the example, "It is like turning up the water supply to a garden hose — the pressure in the hose increases as more water is blasted through it."

Constant high blood pressure can damage the arteries and lead to plaque on the walls. The heart then has. Eventually, it often tires out and increases the risk of heart failure, stroke, and heart attack.

Benefits of a Low-Salt Diet

Most of the benefits of low-salt diets are tied to heart health. However, reducing salt in the diet may likewise lower the risks of additional chronic diseases. These include kidney disease, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, and headaches according to the AHA.

A low-salt diet may also be beneficial for:

• Weight loss: Researchers from the University of Helsinki suggest salt intake is strongly associated with obesity. Other research shows a 1-gram increase of salt daily increases obesity risk by 26 percent in adults. Children also increase their risk by 28 percent.

• Diabetes: A high-sodium diet increases the risk of high blood pressure. This in turn increases the risk of diabetes according to the NHS.

• Hunger regulation: While sodium was previously thought to stimulate thirst, researchers have now discovered salty diets make you hungry not thirsty. Reducing salt can ease hunger and lower the risk of overeating and subsequent weight gain.

• Healthier eating habits: Virtually absent of calories. However, it is abundant in processed convenience foods such as chips, pizza, bread, among numerous others lacking nutritional value.

Low-Sodium Frozen Meals from BistroMD

With bistroMD, members can ensure they are conveniently eating for heart health. And the low-sodium frozen meals are delivered straight to doorsteps!

Unlike most frozen foods, bistroMD low-sodium meal delivery aligns with the AHA recommendations. All meals which fall at or below calories, sodium, total fat and saturated fat. Each meal contains 600 milligrams or less of sodium per meal. They fall below the DGAs and AHAs recommendation of 2,300 milligrams daily.

BistroMD also believes taste is dictated by much more than salt. And by utilizing the freshest ingredients, chefs and nutrition experts craft flavorful meals without resorting to the salt shaker. Flavorful meal options include pork tenderloin with mushroom marsala, tilapia with white wine sauce, and beef chipotle chili with corn pudding.

BistroMD does all of the work for you, including the grocery shopping, meal prepping, and kitchen cleaning. Every meal is delivered fully prepared, so all you have to do is heat, serve, enjoy. This gift you more time to focus on other valuable things besides cooking!

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on April 16, 2019.

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