Dealing With Sodium In Your Diet
Sodium is needed by the human body to maintain proper fluid balance, for the contraction of muscles, and for the transmission of nerve impulses. To help manage the body’s sodium/water balance, excess sodium is removed through the kidneys.
When your kidneys are unable to eliminate all of the excess sodium, it begins to accumulate in your blood, which increases your blood volume. An increase in blood volume forces your heart to work harder to move the extra blood through your vessels, thereby increasing the pressure in your arteries. This can lead to high blood pressure.
If you are over the age of 50, of African-American ethnicity, or have health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, you may be more sensitive to the blood pressure elevating effects of sodium. Your physician may recommend that you reduce your sodium intake to help reduce these effects. Listed below are some simple steps you can take to help reduce your intake of sodium:
- Gradually reduce the amount of salt used both when you are cooking and at the dinner table. Start introducing pepper, fresh herbs, spices and salt-free seasoning blends to add flavor to your favorite foods.
- Learn to read food labels. Look for products that are low in salt, monosodium glutamate (MSG), disodium phosphate, baking soda and baking powder.
- Buy fresh, frozen or canned vegetables that have no salt added.
- Choose fresh poultry and seafood rather than canned or processed versions. Try to avoid meats that have been smoked or cured.
- Rinse canned foods, such as vegetables or tuna, to help remove some of the excess sodium.
- Look for low, reduced-sodium, or sodium free versions of canned soups, bouillons and broths whenever possible.
- Many popular condiments, including ketchup, mayonnaise and salad dressings, have high sodium content and should be consumed in moderation.
- Don't add salt when you are cooking pasta, rice or hot cereals.
- Make your own sauces and gravies instead of purchasing prepared versions, since many are high in sodium.
- Try using orange or pineapple juice as a marinade for meat instead of a commercially-made version.
- When you are dining in a restaurant, request that your meal be prepared without the use of salt.