Low Sodium Cardiac Diet Plan – Overview
Sodium is a necessary nutrient for survival, but too much sodium can lead to serious health consequences.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise adults to limit daily sodium intake to 2300 milligrams (mg). However, up to 50% of Americans consume more than this amount every day.
Consuming too much sodium can put you at risk for heart disease, stroke and hypertension (high blood pressure), so it’s important to follow a low-sodium diet to help protect your health.
What is Sodium?
Sodium is a mineral that is found in foods and added to others. The human body needs only small amounts of sodium to keep the body working properly.
If you eat too much sodium, your blood pressure will rise, putting you at risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney problems.
Sodium should not be confused with salt. Sodium is an element found naturally in some foods, while salt combines sodium and chloride.
A low-sodium diet may help control high blood pressure and prevent heart disease and stroke.
Why Should you Limit Sodium Intake?
There are several reasons why you should limit sodium intake including:
- It helps reduce your blood pressure- Salt is a known cause of hypertension, or high blood pressure, and is one of the most common risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
This condition occurs when there is a narrowing of the arteries that carry oxygen-rich blood throughout your body.
Too much sodium in your diet creates an imbalance between the number of fluids in your bloodstream and the amount of fluid in your cells.
- It helps prevent stroke- High blood pressure is associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis or the arteries’ hardening and narrowing.
A study published in General Hospital Psychiatry found that men who had high sodium excretion levels were three times more likely to die from stroke than those who didn’t.
How to Reduce Sodium in your Diet
Here are several ways to reduce your sodium intake.
- Check food labels carefully. Sodium on a food label is measured in milligrams (mg) per serving size. You can determine how much you’re consuming by multiplying the number of servings by its milligram (mg) content and dividing by 1,000.
If the label doesn’t list the number of servings, you can estimate by looking at how big the package is or how much it weighs.
- Read nutrition labels when dining out. Most restaurants overuse salt in their cooking and preparation; however, you can ask for your dish to be prepared without salt or seasonings.
- Avoid processed foods. These include canned vegetables, soups, sauces, frozen dinners and snack foods that contain large amounts of salt as an ingredient.
Foods to Eat on the Low Sodium Cardiac Diet Plan
There are many good foods that you should include in your low sodium diet. They’re high in nutrients and low in salt. These include:
Freeze-dried vegetables are low in sodium and high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They can be found at some grocery stores or online retailers like Amazon.com.
Foods to Avoid on the Low Sodium Cardiac Diet Plan
You need to avoid foods with high sodium content including:
Processed foods — When food manufacturers remove the salt from their products, they often replace it with other seasonings, such as garlic, onion and pepper.
The problem is that these seasonings can be high in calories and fat, so they could still make unhealthy additions to your diet.
Commercial soups — Most are high in sodium because this ingredient helps preserve them longer. Make your soups from scratch instead of buying.
Almost all foods have some sodium. The key to a low-sodium diet is choosing naturally low in sodium foods and avoiding foods with added sodium.
Printable Low Sodium Cardiac Diet (PDF)
|1||2 egg whites scrambled with ¼ cup cooked oatmeal and ½ cup fresh raspberries||One apple||Fresh pear with ½ cup cottage cheese (2% milkfat) and two rice cakes with two tablespoons peanut butter||Grilled shrimp over 2 cups angel hair pasta, drizzled with Italian dressing (1 tablespoon) and topped with Parmesan cheese|
|2||One serving of whole wheat cereal with skim milk and raisins, 1 cup of decaf tea||1 small orange||2 slices of turkey on a whole wheat roll with lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup and mustard||4 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|
|3||2 whole eggs scrambled and 1 cup fresh fruit or 1 cup juice||A handful of nuts||1 serving vegetable beef soup with vegetables mixed with 1 tablespoon salad dressing||2 servings meatloaf (1 serving = 3 ounces) 2 servings applesauce (1 serving = 1/4 cup)|
|4||3 scrambled egg whites, 1 slice whole-wheat toast, 1 teaspoon butter and 1/2 cup oatmeal (dry measure).||Hardboiled egg with pepper and salt||1/2 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 dressing||3 ounces of roasted chicken breast, 2 cups of broccoli, 3/4 cup steamed cauliflower drizzled with olive oil|
|5||1 cup orange juice, 2 scrambled eggs, 1 slice whole-wheat toast||Pear slices with almond butter||1 cup chicken broth, ½ cup beef stew, canned, 1 cup mixed vegetables (cooked)||6 oz. lean beef steak (broiled), 2 cups mixed vegetables (cooked)|
|6||1/2 cup steel-cut oatmeal topped with one tablespoon chopped walnuts and 1 tablespoon raisins, drizzled with honey; 1 cup fat-free milk||Chia pudding||4 ounces lean ham, 1 medium orange; 1 low-sodium whole-grain roll; 1 cup steamed green beans||4 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|
|7||1/2 small 3/4 cup egg substitute, 1 oz. Cheese (1 slice grapefruit, 1 slice bread, 1 tsp. Butter||Fresh mango slices with cottage cheese||1/2 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|