Why You Should Lower Your Sodium Intake

You may be aware that high sodium intake can increase the risk of hypertension. But, did you know that approximately one-fourth of the world’s adult population have hypertension?

About one in three Americans are suffering from hypertension!

Sodium restriction is the first thing people with prehypertension and hypertension should practice. However, many of them are still consuming more than twice the recommended amount of sodium.

In this article, we are going to discuss proper sodium intake and benefits of reducing sodium in the diet.

Relationship Between Sodium and Blood Pressure

The best evidence of relationship between sodium and blood pressure is DASH study (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).

The DASH diet is promoted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services to prevent and control hypertension. This diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods that include meat, fish, poultry, nuts, and beans; and is limited in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, red meat, and added fats. This diet is recommended as one of the ideal eating plans for all Americans by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

How Much Sodium is Too Much?

Many people are consuming too much of sodium in a day. An adult on an average consumes approx. 3500 mg of sodium per day. But according to the American Heart Association, the USDA, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an adult should not consume more than 2300 mg of sodium in a day. And for people with hypertension, the middle-aged, older adults, and Afro-Americans, an ideal limit of no more than 1500 mg of sodium in a day is recommended.

Sources of Sodium

Most of the sodium intake is through our diet. So pay attention to food labels to know the amount of sodium in food products. Foods with 140 mg or less sodium per serving are considered to be low in sodium. Here’s a list of sodium-containing compounds that you must limit in your diet:

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Disodium phosphate
  • Salt (sodium chloride or NaCl)
  • Baking soda and baking powder

Any compound that has “sodium” or “Na” in its name, whether it’s an over-the-counter or prescription medicine contains sodium.

Benefits of Reducing Sodium Intake

Limiting sodium intake as a society could have major impact on public health. According to researchers, reducing salt intake by 3 grams daily would have an impact on morbidity and mortality similar to the total elimination of cigarette smoking. The number of new cases of heart disease would drop by 6%. There would be 8% fewer heart attacks, and 3% fewer deaths. Such benefits would be more profound for specific groups like African-Americans, whose blood pressure can be more sensitive to salt.

How to Reduce Sodium Intake?

Avoiding salt is not easy as 80% of sodium in our body comes through diet i.e., from processed, prepared, or restaurant foods. The amount of sodium in restaurant food is approximately 4 times higher than the recommended sodium intake as per daily basis. Moreover, processed foods have low level of potassium. So for the individuals, trying to keep control on their sodium intake, must follow these measures:

  • Pay attention to read food labels carefully. Foods that contain 5% or less of the Daily Value (DV) of sodium are considered to be “low-salt.”
  • Make sure to check medication labels for sodium. Some common culprits with a relatively large amount of sodium include antacids, and drugs that are available as effervescent formulations, like Zantac 150 EFFER dose and Alka-Seltzer effervescent products.

Even a small reduction in the amount of sodium consumption each day can make a huge difference.

Leave a Comment