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Low Sodium Diet

No salt
The Low Sodium Diet

By Valerie Mellema

Too much sodium in your diet can lead to several issues, but it is mainly responsible for fluid retention. This fluid retention typically occurs in your hands, ankles, lungs and stomach. Eliminating excel fluid can assist those patients who suffer from liver, kidney or heart disease. By limiting the amount of salt and sodium in your diet, you can drastically change your weight as well as your overall health.

The daily recommended intake of sodium per day is 2000 mg or less if you have liver, kidney or heart disease. Sodium is found in salt and one teaspoon of salt contains about 2000-4000 mg of sodium! That's an entire days worth!

Sodium is naturally occurring in many foods, but those foods that are processed contain more than others do. When you are reading your nutrition labels in the grocery store, look for words such as "monosodium glutamate," "sodium" and "salt" in the ingredients and on the nutrition facts.

To help people limit their sodium intake, the FDA has created four guidelines to assist you in making smart food choices:

  • Foods labeled as "Unsalted, No Salt Added or Without Added Salt" may contain sodium naturally, but additional salt or sodium is not added.
  • Foods labeled as "Sodium Free" contain less than 5 mg of sodium per serving.
  • Foods labeled with "Los Sodium" contain 14 mg or less per serving
  • Foods labeled with "Very Low Sodium" contain 35 mg or less per serving

Understanding these labels can assist you in adding up your daily sodium intake. In addition to watching the nutrition facts, you can lower your sodium intake by changing your eating habits. By eating less processed foods, you are able to drastically change how much sodium you consume. Additionally, fresh foods are low in sodium as well. A huge step to take is to simply put away the saltshaker and experiment with other herbs and spices to add flavor to your foods.

When selecting meats, choose those that are fresh or frozen, but unbreaded as well. Meat alternatives include low sodium or natural peanut butter, dried beans, unsalted nuts, peas or legumes. You also want to limit your intake of processed deli meats, sausage, hot dogs, bacon, canned meats, smoked meats and cured meats. All of these are high in sodium.

When selecting dairy options, choose low sodium cheeses, frozen yogurt, ice cream, milk and regular yogurt. The best cheeses include Swiss, grated parmesan and mozzarella. Limit processed cheeses such as American, Velveeta and nacho cheese as well as pimento cheese spreads. Cheez Wiz and Easy Cheese type spreads should also be avoided.

Fresh and frozen vegetables are ideal. Canned vegetables with no added salt and low sodium vegetable juices are also good choices. Limit your intake of regular canned vegetables, vegetable juices, pickles, relish and olives.

All fruits and fruit juices are a part of a healthy, low sodium diet.

For carbohydrates and starches, choose options such as plain pasta, noodles, rice, hot cereals, English muffins or bagels. You can also have low sodium crackers and pretzels. Limit any prepared mixes, biscuits, seasoned rices, potato mixes and coating mixes. Salted snack foods should also be avoided.

For your fats, use plant oils such as olive or canola oil. You can also have tub or squeeze margarine and low-sodium dressings. Limit commercial salad dressings, salt pork and bacon.

A low sodium diet is all about making the right food choices. The more natural you can go with your selections the lower the sodium will be naturally.