Low Salt Diet
|See Also||Naturopathic Therapies|
|See Also||Clinical Nutrition|
The average American eats five or more teaspoons of salt each day. This is about 20 times as much as the body needs. In fact, your body needs only 1/4 teaspoon of salt every day. Sodium is found naturally in foods, but a lot of it is added during processing and preparation. A main source of sodium is table salt. Many foods that do not taste salty may still be high in sodium. Large amounts of sodium can be hidden in canned, processed and convenience foods. And sodium can be found in many foods that are served at fast food restaurants.
A low-salt diet is commonly recommended when treating the following conditions:
- Sodium and potassium need to be consumed in proper proportion to each other in order to maintain optimal health. When salt is consumed in too great a proportion in the diet relative to potassium hypertension can result. In general, the more salt one consumes, the greater their blood pressure will be, and the more it will rise with age.
- In many individuals, hypertension can be successfully treated simply by reducing salt intake, and increasing potassium intake. Doing so has been shown to decrease blood pressure in people of all ages.
- Potassium may lower blood pressure, and help protect against cardiovascular disease.
- Human societies with a very low salt intake have generally low blood pressure levels throughout their populations. In such societies, blood pressure levels typically do not increase with age. This is in stark contrast to most western societies.
- Weight Gain
- Increased salt levels in the body can lead to water retention and increased weight.
Sodium controls fluid balance in our bodies and maintains blood volume and blood pressure. Eating too much sodium may raise blood pressure and cause fluid retention, which could lead to swelling of the legs and feet or other health issues.
- The general recommendation for a low-salt diet is to consume less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium per day. Mind you, the target given your naturopathic doctor may be even lower than this depending on your specific health risks.
- General Guidelines for Cutting Down on Salt
- Eliminate salty foods from your diet, reduce the amount of salt used in cooking and remove the salt shaker from the table.
- Low sodium is defined as 140 mg of sodium or less per serving.
- High sodium is defined as 400 mg or more of sodium per serving.
- Read food labels.
- Salt substitutes are sometimes made from potassium, so read the label. If you are on a low potassium diet, then check with your doctor before using those salt substitutes.
- Look into other salt options.
- Eat more home-cooked meals. Foods cooked from scratch are naturally lower in sodium than most instant and boxed mixes.
- Don’t use softened water for cooking and drinking since it contains added salt.
- Avoid medications which contain sodium such as Alka Seltzer and Bromo Seltzer.
|High Sodium Foods||Low Sodium Foods|
|Meats and Poultry, Fish, Legumes, Eggs and Nuts||
|Breads, Grains and Cereals||
|Vegetables and Fruit||
|Fats, Desserts and Sweets||
- Pizzorno JE, Murray MT (1997) A Textbook of Natural Medicine Churchill Livingstone. Cite error: Invalid
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- MacGregor GA, de Wardener HE (1998) Salt, Diet and Health: The Uses and Abuses of Salt Throughout History and it’s contribution to Disease in Today’s Consumer Societies, Cambridge University Press.
- McCarty Mark F, Moore Richard D (2001) The Salt Solution. Avery.
- Gittleman Ann Louise (1996) Get the Salt Out: 501 Simple Ways to Cut the Salt Out of Any Diet, Three Rivers Press.
- Somer Elizabeth (1999) Food and Mood: The Complete Guide to Eating Well and Feeling Your Best, Second Edition. Henry Holt.