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Sodium

This week, I received the following question from http://foodpicker.org

I have pre-diabetes and have just been diagnosed with high blood pressure as well.  My doctor says to watch my sodium intake.  I feel like I’ve been hit with a double whammy!  In addition to trying to lose weight and watch my carb intake, I now have to watch my salt as well.  Could you give me some low salt ideas for dinner meals?

-Carol T.

As a general statement, Americans consume too much sodium. The upper level set for sodium intake is about 2300 mg per day. On average, Americans consumer way over 3000 mg per day. This sodium intake comes from processed foods, restaurant foods, additives, and unnecessary table salt. Over 77% of the sodium in the diet comes from processed foods. It is so much easier to cut down the sodium in your diet than it seems. Eating whole foods versus fast foods will easily cut down more than 50% of the sodium in your diet.

Excess sodium in the diet is called hyponatremia. Symptoms of the condition include nausea and vomiting, headache, confusion, lethargy, fatigue, appetite loss, restlessness and irritability, muscle weakness, spasms, or cramps, seizures, and decreased consciousness or coma. Many medical illnesses, such as congestive heart failure, liver failure, renal failure, or pneumonia may be associated with hyponatremia.

The biggest toll that sodium takes on your health is its affect on blood pressure and heart health. The kidneys process the sodium in the body. When there is an excess amount, the kidneys cannot fully process it. The over amount of sodium in the body remains in the bloodstream. The mineral, sodium, retains water, which leads to a buildup of water volume in the body. In turn, the circulatory system must work double-time to pump the blood throughout the body. Over time, the strain results in kidney failure and heart disease.

Low salt meals are much easier to come by than people make it seem. Cooking at home already makes low salt meals possible. A high sodium diet comes from fast and processed foods. When at home, cook with whole foods and not a lot of frozen foods. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables instead of canned ones.

For breakfast, eat and egg white omelet with fresh vegetables and a fresh fruit salad.

For lunch have a grilled chicken breast with a spinach salad.

For dinner, eat whole wheat pasta, with grilled salmon and fresh vegetables.

Remember, in a low sodium diet, whole foods are key. Avoid heavily processed foods and you are golden!

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