How Much Sodium Can You Have On a Cardiac Diet?

How Much Sodium Can You Have On a Cardiac Diet? – Overview

Excessive use of salt is dangerous, but how much is too much?

It takes time and perseverance to acclimate to a low sodium cardiac diet. Nevertheless, patience is worth the effort because too much salt in your food can lead to devastating health manifestations.  

The body relies on sodium, a mineral found in salt, to hydrate the bloodstream. Blood vessels widen and take in more water when you eat too much sodium content.

Too much salt also leads to fluid retention, weight gain, bloating, heart problems, and swelling. All These symptoms occur when your heart is not pumping blood as efficiently as the body needs.

How Much Salt Should You Eat?

How Much Sodium Can You Have On a Cardiac Diet

How Much Sodium Can You Have On a Cardiac Diet – How Much Salt Should You Eat

Maintaining a healthy salt intake is essential to preventing the progression of your illness. Between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day is the current recommended daily salt intake.

The strictest of all experts, the American Heart Association, recommends a daily sodium consumption of fewer than 1,500 mg. 

Despite these warnings, the average person consumes 3,400 mg of salt per day, more than twice the daily limit. Processed or restaurant foods account for about 80 percent of our total salt intake. 

How to Maintain A Low Sodium Cardiac Diet

In hospitals, the prescription of low sodium meals to patients is prevalent because they help control or improve several health disorders.

However, you do not necessarily need to be in a hospital to adhere to a low sodium diet. Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Read Food Labels

How Much Sodium Can You Have On a Cardiac Diet

How Much Sodium Can You Have On a Cardiac Diet – Read Food Labels

Many food products that you might consider low in sodium might be the opposite. Read the label to see just how much sodium is in the product you intend to purchase.

You can see the amount of sodium in a serving on the Nutrition Facts panel, including a percentage of the recommended daily intake of that nutrient.

A decent rule of thumb is to purchase a product with less than 5 percent of the daily value of sodium to minimize your sodium intake. 

In addition, have a look at the ingredients list. In any form, the phrase “sodium” or “salt” will tell you that the item contains sodium. Sodium content is easy to detect from the following terms found on food packaging:

  • Sodium-free: This means that each serving contains no more than 5 milligrams of sodium.
  • Very low sodium: A serving includes fewer than 35 milligrams of sodium, making it extremely low in sodium.
  • Less (or reduced) sodium: This means sodium content is lower by at least 25% compared to the average serving size.
  • Light in sodium: At least 50% less sodium per serving than average is in the product

2. Wash Your Food Products

It is always advisable to rinse all your foods thoroughly before cooking or storing them to get rid of any extra sodium. 

3. Insist On a Low Sodium Diet When Eating Out

Insist On a Low Sodium Diet When Eating Out

Even if you cook most of your meals at home, you will still want to treat yourself to a lunch out now and again.

When eating in a restaurant, make sure to inquire whether they offer a low sodium diet option. If not, request them to prepare your meal without salt or MSG.  

Choose steamed, broiled, baked, roasted, or poached foods instead of deep-fried ones, and substitute salad dressings with a simple olive oil and vinegar mixture.

4. Diversify Your Diet 

Try consuming a wide range of foods to get all of your required nutrients. Be sure to eat plenty of high-fiber foods, such as veggies, legumes, whole grains, bran, and fresh fruit.

Fiber aids digestion regulates blood sugar levels and lowers cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Each day, aim for 25 to 35 grams of fiber.

5. Reduce Your Alcohol Consumption

 Alcohol may worsen the symptoms of heart failure and increase your heart rate.

6. Hydrate


Water is an essential component of any diet. It also helps to lower the amount of sodium content in the body.

If you are not sure how much you should be drinking on a cardiac diet, consult a doctor for guidelines. 

Low Sodium Foods

Low salt options are plentiful on grocery store shelves, making eating a healthy cardiac diet easier. The following foods are your best options to maintain a low sodium cardiac diet. 

1. Vegetables and Fruits

Besides being low in sodium, most veggies and fruits are rich in nutrients, fiber, and vitamins. They are also low in calories, making them suitable for a cardiac diet.

You can purchase your fruits and veggies fresh or frozen, but make sure they do not have any additional butter, sauces, or seasonings.

2. Meat

How Much Sodium Can You Have On a Cardiac Diet

How Much Sodium Can You Have On a Cardiac Diet – Meat

Meat is an excellent protein source that the body needs to thrive. However, processed meats such as bacon, hot dogs, sausage, salami, and ham contain high sodium.

Additionally, certain raw meats include sodium as a component of the packing process.

Instead of processed meats, choose fresh or frozen seafood such as fish, chicken, lean steak, or pork, which you can prepare and season yourself.

Opt for meats with a sodium content of no more than 5% on the Nutrition Facts label.

3. Beans, Peas, and Legumes

Plant-based protein is also another essential nutrient the body needs. We get this from foods such as beans, legumes, and peas.

Instead of buying packed plant-based protein sources, cook them dried at home, in which case you can have complete control over the salt content. If you opt to buy, ensure that they do not have any additional sodium than required. 

4. Cereals 

Snacks made from oatmeal and shredded wheat are nutritious. You can add fruit or nuts to the plain ones before eating them. Cold cereals with salt content greater than or equal to 5 percent DV are not advisable for a cardiac diet. 

5. Grains 

Choose whole grains like brown or wild rice, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta, or couscous instead of pre-seasoned varieties.

6. Snacks

How Much Sodium Can You Have On a Cardiac Diet

How Much Sodium Can You Have On a Cardiac Diet – Snacks

Unsalted popcorn, crackers, pretzels, and nuts are all good bets when it comes to snacking on low sodium bitings. 

7. Dairy

Milk, yogurt, and several other dairy products contain naturally low sodium levels. Opt for salt-free or low sodium varieties of cheese and butter.

8. Dressings and Condiments 

Store-bought salsa, salad dressing, soy sauce, and other condiments can be salty, especially if prepared in advance.

Preparing your food at home is an excellent option. If you are buying pre-packaged dressings, sauces, or condiments, opt for those with low sodium or salt-free entirely. 

9. Herbs and Spices 

You do not have to use salt to make your food taste delicious. If you want to spice things up, add some citrus juice or zest along with other herbs and spices like black or red pepper, sage, dill, curry, or rosemary. 

Final Thoughts

How much sodium should you consume on a cardiac diet?

Following the American Heart Association’s guidelines, healthy adults should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day (about a teaspoon of salt). The optimal sodium intake for most persons is no more than 1,500 mg per day.

A low sodium diet restricts the consumption of high-sodium foods and beverages.

High blood pressure and cardiovascular disease are two common illnesses for which medical professionals highly recommend low sodium diets.

Here is the Table to Control How Much Sodium Can You Have On a Cardiac Diet

12 egg whites scrambled with ¼ cup cooked oatmeal and ½ cup fresh raspberriesOne appleFresh pear with ½ cup cottage cheese (2% milkfat) and two rice cakes with two tablespoons peanut butterGrilled shrimp over 2 cups angel hair pasta, drizzled with Italian dressing (1 tablespoon) and topped with Parmesan cheese
2One serving of whole wheat cereal with skim milk and raisins, 1 cup of decaf tea1 small orange2 slices of turkey on a whole wheat roll with lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup and mustard4 oz. Turkey breast, baked without salt or sauces on a bed of lettuce and tomatoes with a side dish of cooked carrots and green beans
32 whole eggs scrambled and 1 cup fresh fruit or 1 cup juiceA handful of nuts1 serving vegetable beef soup with vegetables mixed with 1 tablespoon salad dressing2 servings meatloaf (1 serving = 3 ounces) 2 servings applesauce (1 serving = 1/4 cup)
43 scrambled egg whites, 1 slice whole-wheat toast, 1 teaspoon butter and 1/2 cup oatmeal (dry measure).Hardboiled egg with pepper and salt1/2 can chickpeas, 1/2 cup brown rice, green beans cooked with onions and garlic seasoned with salt and pepper, a small salad made of romaine lettuce and a tablespoon of fat-free dressing3 ounces of roasted chicken breast, 2 cups of broccoli, 3/4 cup steamed cauliflower drizzled with olive oil
51 cup orange juice, 2 scrambled eggs, 1 slice whole-wheat toastPear slices with almond butter1 cup chicken broth, ½ cup beef stew, canned, 1 cup mixed vegetables (cooked)6 oz. lean beef steak (broiled), 2 cups mixed vegetables (cooked)
61/2 cup steel-cut oatmeal topped with one tablespoon chopped walnuts and 1 tablespoon raisins, drizzled with honey; 1 cup fat-free milkChia pudding4 ounces lean ham, 1 medium orange; 1 low-sodium whole-grain roll; 1 cup steamed green beans4 ounces of lean meat, fish, or poultry; 1 cup cooked brown rice; 2 cups raw spinach dressed with 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, 2 tablespoons sliced almonds and 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
71/2 small 3/4 cup egg substitute, 1 oz. Cheese (1 slice grapefruit, 1 slice bread, 1 tsp. ButterFresh mango slices with cottage cheese1/2 cup tuna fish (canned in water), 2 cups mixed green salad with 2 tbsp. Olive oil and vinegar dressing, 4 saltine crackers (1 serving)4 oz. Chicken breast, 2 cups mixed green salad with 2 tbsp. Olive oil and vinegar dressing, 1 cup cooked green beans or corn, 1/2 whole wheat roll, 1 tsp. Butter

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