For example, a low-sodium diet is commonly prescribed to people with certain medical conditions, including heart failure, high blood pressure and kidney disease. This article explains why a low-sodium diet is necessary for some people and reviews benefits, risks and foods to avoid and eat. Sodium is an essential mineral involved in many important bodily functions, including cellular function, fluid regulation, electrolyte balance and maintaining blood pressure 1. Because this mineral is vital to life, your kidneys tightly regulate its levels based on the concentration osmolarity of bodily fluids 2. Sodium is found in most foods you eat — though whole foods like vegetables, fruits and poultry contain much lower amounts. Plant-based foods like fresh produce generally have less sodium than animal-based foods, such as meat and dairy products. Sodium is most concentrated in processed and packaged foods like chips, frozen dinners and fast food where salt is added during processing to enhance flavor. Another major contributor to sodium intake is adding salt to food when preparing meals in your kitchen and as a seasoning before eating.
Find out how much sodium you really need, what high-sodium foods to avoid, and ways to prepare and serve foods without adding sodium. If you’re like many people, you’re getting far more sodium than is recommended, and that could lead to serious health problems. You probably aren’t even aware of just how much sodium is in your diet. Consider that a single teaspoon of table salt, which is a combination of sodium and chloride, has 2, milligrams mg of sodium — more than the daily amount recommended in the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension DASH diet. And it’s not just table salt you have to worry about. Many processed and prepared foods contain sodium. Your kidneys naturally balance the amount of sodium stored in your body for optimal health. When your body sodium is low, your kidneys essentially hold on to the sodium.
Need more fiber? Do not use a salt substitute unless you check with your doctor or dietitian first, due to potential drug or nutrient interactions. A review of 23 studies found that both high and low sodium intake was associated with a higher risk of all-cause mortality and heart disease events Get updates. Medically reviewed by Hrefna Palsdottir, MS.
Although there are variations, sodium intake is generally kept to less than 2-3 grams 2,-3. Read this next. Executive summary: Dietary Guidelines for the cholesterol and fat content.