If you are over the age of 50, then you should be eating 2,300 mg of sodium per day (or less). Most older adults consume more than 3,400 mg of sodium each day, which is well above the recommended amount. If you have high blood pressure, the max sodium amount is 1,500 mg per day. If you are like most, changing your diet sounds daunting, and you may worry that it will result in bland food. We are here to correct that myth and provide you with low sodium diet options that will help you protect your heart, lower your blood pressure and still taste good.
Before we tell you about low-sodium foods that will work in your diet, we need to answer the following:
Why is Sodium So Dangerous?
Salt (or sodium) is in most of the foods we eat (including fruits and vegetables). Eating too much salt (or sodium), however, will increase the amount in your bloodstream. This will impact your kidneys’ ability to remove water, causing higher blood pressure. This will lead to strain on your blood vessels, heart, aorta, and kidneys. Such impact can lead to heart disease and potentially a heart attack.
How Much Salt is 2,300 mg of Sodium?
This is the surprising part – 2,300 mg of sodium is equal to only 1 teaspoon of salt.
Low Sodium Food Options
Use the list below when shopping for your next meal:
- Go for vegetables that are fresh, frozen, or canned. Pick frozen vegetables without sauce, and canned vegetables with the least amount of sodium
- If you use canned foods, rinse them before eating or cooking with them. This will wash away some of the salt
- Fresh meats, fish, and poultry rather than cooked or prepared items
- Use herbs and spices as seasoning instead than salt
- Snack on unsalted nuts instead of salted pretzels or chips
- Choose skinless chicken and turkey, lean meats, or seafood instead of deli meats or sausages
- Try different herbs and spices to flavor your food, like ginger or garlic, instead of salt
- Potassium can help blunt the effects of sodium on blood pressure
Low Sodium Shopping Tips
When shopping at the grocery store, consider the following to identify low-sodium foods:
- Read the nutrition facts label to find the sodium content
- Limit how much packaged food you buy
- Buy foods that are labeled ‘low sodium’ but always check the serving size on the nutrition facts
- When you purchase condiments and spreads, look for options that are unsalted or lower in sodium
What Foods to Avoid
Be aware of and try to limit the “Salty Six” as determined by the American Heart Association, which include:
- Breads, rolls, bagels, flour tortillas, and wraps
- Cold cuts and cured meats
- Poultry (Much of the poultry and other meats we eat are injected with sodium. Check the Nutrition Facts for sodium content or read the package for a description of a solution, for example, “Fresh chicken in a 15% solution.”)
The first thing you can do is take the salt shaker off your table then follow our tips listed above to help create a low sodium heart healthy lifestyle. Heart disease is considered the silent killer so take proactive steps today to reduce your sodium intake and that of your aging loved ones.