Low-Salt Diet & Observational Studies of Sodium and Blood Pressure ..

Salt is essential not only to life, but to good health. Most of our salt comes from food, some from water. Sodium is an element that is found in many foods as well as water. The body requires a small amount of sodium in the diet to control blood pressure and blood volume. However, most people consume many times the amount of sodium needed. A low sodium diet contains fewer than 2 grams (2,000 milligrams) of sodium each day. People with certain medical conditions such as high blood pressure, kidney disease, and heart problems can benefit from a diet that is low in sodium.With recognition of the inherent weakness of ecological studies, attempts have been made to relate sodium intake to blood pressure in epidemiological studies that identify characteristics of individuals.

Perhaps the most ambitious of these has been Intersalt Study, a cross-sectional assessment of >10 000 subjects in 52 locations around the world. In that study, it was again found that, given free access, the vast majority of people will invariably consume between 100 and 200 mmol of sodium. Overall, no association between sodium intake and blood pressure was identified by the Intersalt investigators in an analysis limited to the 48 centers consuming >100 mmol/24 hours. When the 4 centers consuming 0.2 to 50 mmol/24 hours were included, a significant association of sodium to blood pressure emerged. Moreover, after stratifying by age, in societies with greater sodium excretion, blood pressure increased more with age compared with those communities in which less sodium was consumed. Here are some basic guidelines that will help you get started:

  • Control the sodium in your diet. Decrease the total amount of sodium you consume to 2,000 mg (2 g) per day.
  • Learn to read food labels. Use the label information on food packages to help you to make the best low-sodium selections.
  • Include high-fiber foods such as vegetables, cooked dried peas and beans (legumes), whole-grain foods, bran, cereals, pasta, rice and fresh fruit. Fiber is the indigestible part of plant food that helps move food along the digestive tract, better controls blood glucose levels, and may reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood. Foods high in fiber include natural antioxidants, which reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. The goal for everyone is to consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight. This includes losing weight if you are overweight. Limit your total daily calories, follow a low-fat diet and exercise regularly to achieve or maintain your ideal body weight.

Foods to choose — The following are examples of foods that are generally low in sodium. Check the label to determine the amount of sodium as amounts can vary from one brand to another.

  • Breads — Whole grain breads, English muffins, bagels, corn and flour tortillas, most muffins
  • Fruits and vegetables — Any fresh, frozen, or canned fruit, any fresh or frozen vegetables without sauce, canned vegetables without salt, low-salt tomato sauce/paste
  • Dairy products — Milk, cream, sour cream, non-dairy creamer, yogurt, low-sodium cottage cheese, low sodium cheese, ricotta and mozzarella cheese
  • Fats and oils — Plant oils (olive, canola, corn, peanut), unsalted butter or margarine
  • Soups — Salt-free soups and low-sodium bouillon cubes, unsalted broth, homemade soup without added salt
  • Desserts — Gelatin, sherbet, pudding, ice cream, salt-free baked goods, sugar, honey, jam, jelly, marmalade, syrup
  • Cereals — Many cooked low salt (read the label to determine sodium content) hot cereals (not instant) such as oatmeal, cream of wheat, rice, or farina, puffed wheat, puffed rice, shredded wheat
  • Crackers and snack foods — All unsalted crackers and snack foods, unsalted peanut butter, unsalted nuts or seeds, unsalted popcorn
  • Pasta, rice, and potatoes — Any type of pasta (cooked in unsalted water), potatoes, white or brown rice
  • Dried peas and beans — Any cooked dried beans or peas or low salt canned beans and peas
  • Meats and protein — Fresh or frozen beef, poultry, and fish; low sodium canned tuna and salmon; eggs or egg substitutes
  • Beverages — Coffee, tea, soft drinks, fruit flavored drinks, low salt tomato juice, any fruit juice

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