5 Tips for Reducing Salt in Your Diet

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015
5 tips for reducing salt in diet

Cutting back on salt in cooking can lead to creative ways to add flavor. A low-sodium diet is important for people with heart failure and those who want to live a heart-healthy lifestyle.

What is Heart Failure?

Heart failure is a chronic, progressive condition in which the heart doesn't pump blood as well as it should. The heart muscle is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body's needs for blood and oxygen. Heart failure is the most common cause of hospital admissions in patients ages 65 and older.

More than 5 million Americans have heart failure. Despite its name, the condition is manageable and there are ways people with heart failure can improve their quality of life.

One important lifestyle change for heart failure patients is limiting the amount of sodium in their food. The more sodium a food has, the more water is retained in the body and the harder the heart has to work. The Doylestown Health heart failure team educates patients on the importance of eating a low-sodium diet and offers a support group that meets at Doylestown Hospital.

Sizing Up Sodium

Most people consume about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day — much more than the 1,500 to 2,000 milligrams recommended by the American Heart Association. Doylestown Hospital follows the 2,000-milligram sodium limit.

"Everyone thinks low-sodium food tastes bland, but it doesn't," said heart failure coordinator Amy Padbury, RN, MSN, ACNP-BC. "You get used to it. You have to commit to it."

Amy and heart failure support group coordinator Ronna Bell recently organized a low-sodium dinner for the group's latest meeting. Our team of chefs and dietitians prepared special holiday dishes that don't rely on salt for flavor. The typical holiday meal has about 2,000 mg of sodium. The Fresh Inspirations holiday meal had only 231.8 mg of sodium and included roasted turkey, cider gravy, stuffing, sweet potato casserole and pumpkin pie.

5 Tips for Reducing Sodium at Home

  • Choose fresh fruits and vegetables, which contain only small amounts of sodium
  • Select foods low in salt (fresh meats, poultry, beans, eggs, milk and yogurt)
  • Plain rice, pasta and oatmeal are low in sodium, but watch the sodium content in sauces or other ingredients used with them
  • Add flavor with herbs, spices, herbed vinegar and fruit juices; avoid spice blends that contain salt
  • When buying packaged foods, always read the food label. Choose foods with less than 140 milligrams of sodium per serving.

Low Sodium Recipes

Try some of these delicious low-sodium holiday dishes.

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