A Quick Guide to Low-Sodium Diet for Weight Loss

by Marixie Ann Obsioma, MT, undergrad MD on October 13, 2021
Last updated on December 5, 2021

What Is Sodium Used For?

Sodium, an electrolyte, and mineral vital for life are found in modest levels in many meals, including plants like celery and beets. Many of your body’s vital processes rely on sodium, a necessary element. Natural sources of this mineral include eggs and vegetables, as well as table salt (sodium chloride).

Sodium is an essential part of a healthy diet, however, it can be restricted in rare cases. Certain medical disorders, such as heart failure, high blood pressure, and kidney disease, frequently necessitate a low-sodium diet.

That’s why low-sodium diets are required by a few people, and this article explains why and provides information on the advantages, hazards, items to avoid and eat.

It regulates blood pressure, nerve transmission, muscle contractions, and fluid balances in a variety of biological functions.

In what ways does Sodium differ from salt in comparison?

Sodium and salt are frequently used as synonyms, yet they are distinct substances.

Sodium and chloride make up salt.

Because salt is commonly used in cooking, manufacturing, and as a preservation agent, it is one of the most prevalent sources of sodium intake. In the United States, packaged, prepared, and restaurant foods account for more than 70 percent of sodium intake.

Even if sodium occurs in a variety of different forms, we can get into trouble if we consume too much.

It is the kidneys that control the amount of salt in your body; if there is too much or underlying kidney difficulties, sodium may build up in your blood, causing a chain reaction of health problems.

Are You Eating Too Little Salt?

The average daily intake of 3,400 mg is considered too high for the majority of people.

Sodium intake should not exceed 2,300 mg per day.

Table salt has 2,300 mg of sodium in a single teaspoon!

In order to keep your sodium intake under the recommended range, it is recommended that you limit or completely eliminate high-sodium foods.

At first, cutting back may seem difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. Learning what meals you should eat less of and which ones you should stock up on is the first step. In addition, you’ll get the health benefits of adopting a more healthful eating regimen.

A Low-Sodium Diet Is Exactly What It Sounds Like

Cellular function, fluid regulation, electrolyte balance, and blood pressure regulation all rely on sodium, an essential element.

Your kidneys monitor the concentration (osmolarity) of your bodily fluids to ensure that this mineral is not depleted.

Sodium can be present in almost everything you consume, although it is found in considerably lower concentrations in entire meals like vegetables, fruits, and poultry.

There is less salt in plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables than in animal-based foods like meat and dairy products.

Foods that are processed and packaged, such as chips, frozen dinners, and fast food, have a higher concentration of sodium because salt is used to increase flavor.

Adding salt to food while cooking and as a seasoning before eating is another key contributor to sodium intake.

High-sodium meals and beverages are restricted in a low-sodium diet.

High blood pressure and heart disease are two common illnesses for which these diets are prescribed by medical professionals.

There are exceptions to the rule, but the recommended daily sodium consumption for most people is less than 2–3 grams (2,000–3,000 mg).

For comparison, a teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium in it.

In order to keep your salt intake within the recommended level, items high in sodium must be restricted or altogether avoided when on a low-sodium diet.

Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease

A low-sodium diet may help lower blood pressure, as noted above.

In persons with high blood pressure, a low-sodium diet can result in tiny but significant reductions in blood pressure.

There was a considerable reduction in blood pressure in patients with both high and normal levels of salt intake after four or more weeks of a modest reduction in salt intake.

The average drop in systolic and diastolic blood pressure was 5.39 mmHg and 2.82 mmHg, respectively, in the subjects with high blood pressure.

Systolic blood pressure (the top number on the reading) dropped 2.42 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number on the reading) dropped 1.00 mmHg for persons with normal values (the bottom number of a reading).

Cancer Risk May Be Decreased

Certain forms of cancer, particularly stomach cancer, have been related to high-salt diets.

According to an analysis of 76 research involving over 6,300,000 persons, the risk of stomach cancer increased by 12 percent for every daily increase in salt intake of 5 grams from processed meals rich in salt.

The mucosal lining of your stomach can be damaged by a high-salt diet, which can promote inflammation and the growth of H. Pylori bacteria, which may increase your risk of stomach cancer.

However, a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in processed foods is connected with a lower risk of stomach cancer.

Food Quality Can Be Improved

As a general rule, foods that are heavy in salt tend to be unhealthy. As well as having a high salt content, packaged foods and frozen meals also tend to be rich in fats and calories.

Consuming these meals on a regular basis has been linked to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Low-sodium diets exclude certain high-sodium foods, which may enhance your overall diet quality.

Reducing Salt Consumption’s Positive Health Effects

Many medical disorders are treated with low-sodium diets because evidence suggests that reducing sodium intake can help prevent and control certain medical conditions.

A low sodium diet is one that contains fewer than 1,500 mg of sodium per day, which is even stricter for those on a cardiac diet or who have high blood pressure.

Because salt causes water retention, patients with heart failure or high blood pressure often benefit from a lower sodium intake. This is because sodium can increase hypertension, edema, and fluid build-up.

Studies have shown that patients with chronic kidney disease may benefit from a low-sodium diet as high dietary sodium interferes with renal function, impacts fluid volume, proteinuria, and immunosuppressive medication..

Osteoporosis may also be linked to a lack of calcium in the diet, which can be countered by eating more potassium-rich foods, but a low-sodium diet is a better long-term strategy to prevent bone loss.

What Is the Purpose of Low-Sodium Diets?

Some of the most often prescribed diets in hospitals are low-sodium diets.

Medical diseases may be improved or controlled by decreasing salt consumption, according to recent studies.

Preventing Renal Disease

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) and renal failure are two examples of kidney diseases that impair function.

It is impossible for your kidneys to adequately remove extra sodium or fluid from your body if they are damaged.

Your blood pressure rises if your sodium and fluid levels are too high, which might further damage your already damaged kidneys.

All persons with chronic kidney disease (CKD) should limit their sodium consumption to less than 2 grams (2,000 mg) a day, according to the National Kidney Foundation (NKF).

In persons with chronic kidney disease, moderate sodium restriction lowered blood pressure and urine protein levels, according to an analysis of 11 trials (a marker of kidney damage).

Avoiding Inflammation of the Blood Vessels

Having high blood pressure is associated with a number of health issues, including cardiovascular disease and stroke.

A diet heavy in salt has been related to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Persons with the highest urine sodium excretion had the highest blood pressure values in recent research of 766 people.

Reducing salt intake may help lower blood pressure in persons with raised levels, according to many researchers.

Salinity limitation lowered blood pressure in adults, particularly in those with high blood pressure, according to an analysis of six research involving over 3,000 participants.

Some groups of people, such as African-Americans, are more sensitive to high salt intake than others, and this sensitivity varies widely.

Despite this, low-sodium diets are frequently advised as a natural treatment for high blood pressure in all patients.

Reduces Inflammation of the Heart

Those with cardiac diseases, particularly heart failure, are frequently advised to follow low-sodium diets.

It is possible to suffer from water and sodium retention if your heart is weakened.

People with heart failure may experience shortness of breath if they ingest an excessive amount of salt.

A daily salt limit of 3,000 mg is recommended for persons with mild heart failure and 2,000 mg is recommended for those with moderate to severe heart failure.

Others have shown that a non-restrictive diet, rather than a low-sodium diet, is beneficial for people with heart failure.

It was observed that restricting sodium intake to less than 2,5 grams per day in patients with heart failure had a considerably higher risk of death or hospitalization than increasing salt intake to 2,5 grams or more daily, based on the research of 833 patients.

How to Enjoy Low-Salt Foods

If you’re on a sodium-restricted diet, it’s critical that you select foods that are low in sodium by nature or contain little salt at all.

On a low-sodium diet, the following items are acceptable:

  • Vegetables such as greens, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, etc., that are not covered in sauce.
  • Berries, apples, bananas, pears, etc. are all examples of fresh, frozen, or dried fruits.
  • Foods like dried beans, brown rice, farro, and quinoa, as well as whole wheat pasta, are all good sources of fiber.
  • Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and parsnips are all examples of starchy veggies.
  • Poultry such as chicken, turkey, cattle, and pork.
  • Cod, sea bass, tuna, and other fresh or frozen fish

There are two types of eggs available: whole eggs and egg whites.

You can get your healthy fats from olive oil and avocado oil.

Sodium-free soups: canned or handmade soups with low sodium content.

Milk, yogurt, unsalted butter, and low-sodium cheeses are examples of dairy products. Tostadas and crackers that aren’t seasoned with salt, as well as whole-grain bread.

A variety of unsalted nuts and seeds, such as pumpkin seeds and almonds.

Among the low-sodium snacks: unsalted pretzels, popcorn, and tortilla chips.

Sodium-free condiments include vinegar, mayonnaise, low-sodium salad dressing, and low-sodium sauces.

Vegetable juice, tea, and water are examples of low-sodium beverages.

These include garlic powder, herbs, and spices with low sodium content.

Guidelines for a Successful Low-Salt Diet

Just a little practice and knowledge from reputable sources is all that is needed to learn how to reduce your salt intake. Use these tips and strategies to learn about the finest low-sodium foods and keep track of your daily salt intake:

1. Keeping track of your calorie intake is the first step.

Use a nutrition tracking tool to keep track of your current salt intake.

Finding out where your sodium is coming from, finding healthy adjustments, and staying on top of recommended requirements, and maintaining a low salt diet are all made easier with this simple tool.

You can keep a food diary, use a fitness software like the Trifecta App, or figure out how many calories you need each day to keep track of your intake.

2. Make a meal plan.

It’s another wonderful approach to control your nutrition by planning part or all of your meals in advance, since you’ll know exactly what you’ll be eating each day.

Get started with easy meal ideas and see what works best for you! You don’t have to rely on sophisticated recipes and expensive products to be successful.

To plan your week’s worth of heart-healthy meals, download this free menu planning template and get started today!

Many diets exist, including paleo, keto, vegan, whole-food, flexitarian; all of these may be tweaked to be low-sodium as long as you focus on eating fresh, whole foods and minimizing the amount of salt you add to your food when cooking.

There are a few things to keep in mind while preparing your low-sodium diet meals:

  • Start with preparing a few meals a week at home, then gradually increase the number of meals you prepare at home.
  • Cooking with pre-made sauces, mixes, and “instant” items is a waste of time and money.
  • Buying fresh ingredients is the key: Whole foods include meat, poultry, veggies, and grains.
  • Make your own vegetables or look for low-sodium or no-salt-added cans of vegetables.
  • Rinse canned items such as beans to get rid of any unnecessary salt.
  • Unsalted nuts or vegetable sticks are good options for low-salt snacking.
  • It’s better to drink water than anything else because it’s lower in salt.

Eat More Organic, Locally Grown Food

You can use the following items as a guide when creating your grocery list because they are naturally low in salt.

Remember that the majority of fresh produce, raw unprocessed meats, uncooked whole grains, and other whole foods in their most natural state are likely to be low in salt. Packaged foods are more likely to include additional sodium.

Foods high in Potassium have been marked with an asterisk because Potassium is thought to mitigate some of the negative effects of high salt consumption. In addition to potassium, many fresh fruits and vegetables include a wealth of other nutrients, making them a great option all around.

Your diet is the sum total of everything you eat, so even though some items may be higher in sodium, you can still control your consumption by being aware of what you eat.

Foods with A High Sodium Content

When dining out, eating fast food, or consuming a lot of packaged and prepared items such as the following, salt intake is high.

  • Salad dressings, teriyaki, ketchup, marinara, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, and many others
  • Soups
  • Preserved Meals
  • For salty snacks, a good rule of thumb is to avoid anything with visible salt. Pretzels, chips, salted almonds, crackers, etc. are all examples of salted snacks
  • Bread, bagels, tortillas, and biscuits
  • Bacon, sausage, lunch meats, hot dogs, and pizza are all examples of processed meats that include a lot of sodium in order to preserve them
  • Frozen processed meats, pizza, and other dishes
  • Cottage cheese and cheese are both dairy products
  • Vegetables and fruits that have been pickled
  • Roasted nuts and seeds
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Salty garnishes

The following naturally high-sodium foods are also on the list:

  • Beets
  • Clams
  • Crab legs

3. Pay attention to the nutrition facts on the labels of your food.

Always read the nutrition facts label on any packaged food item to see if it has high levels of salt.

Low sodium foods have less than 5 percent, while high-sodium foods have more than 20 percent of the recommended intake.

4. While eating out, try to limit your salt consumption or cook more at home.

Ask your waitress if salt can be omitted from your meal at a restaurant or a take-out order.

There are a number of low-sodium options that don’t include common high-sodium items like sauces, breading, and cheese. Try grilled chicken breast instead of chicken parmesan, as an illustration of this point.

You can also lookup nutrition facts on the restaurant’s website ahead of time or inquire with your server if it is available. This can assist you to know exactly how much salt you’re getting with your food choice.

5. Use seasonings from other sources.

You don’t have to go for the salt shaker every time you cook to get great flavor. You can omit the salt by incorporating herbs, spices, and other ingredients, such as vinegar, into your dishes.

Small amounts of beneficial minerals and phytonutrients can also be gained by using fresh and dried herbs and spices.

Salt alternatives that don’t have all the sodium:

  • Coriander/Cumin
  • Paprika/Pepper
  • A mixture of lemon and lime juice and zest
  • Herbs, both fresh and dried,
  • Powdered Garlic, Ginger, and Onion
  • Ground Chili Pepper/ flakes
  • Kinds of vinegar like apple cider or balsamic can be used to flavor food.
  • And almost any seasoning mix that doesn’t contain salt

Not interested in creating your own meals or having problems managing your salt intake? Put your sodium-controlled diet on autopilot by opting for a reliable meal delivery provider that provides pre-cooked proteins, grains, and veggies done with minimal spices.

Conclusion

In the end, a low-sodium diet can help in aiding weight loss and also contribute to numerous health benefits including reducing the risks for renal failure, avoiding inflammation of the blood vessels, and preventing heart problems caused by too much sodium intake.

References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/low-sodium-diet
  2. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15426-sodium-controlled-diet
  3. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/guidelines-for-a-low-sodium-diet
  4. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/how-much-sodium-should-i-eat-per-day

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