Four Things You Should Know about Low Sodium Diets

Sodium-free diets can help avoid all the complications that excess salt causes. However, as you already know, sodium is essential for proper bodily functioning. In this article, discover four facts about low sodium diets.
Four Things You Should Know about Low Sodium Diets

Last update: 12 May, 2020

Low sodium diets are those that limit the consumption of foods that contain a lot of sodium.

People who usually decide to (or should decide to) follow this type of diet are those who suffer from conditions that worsen due to high blood sodium levels. Some of these conditions are high blood pressure (hypertension), kidney disease, or heart failure.

We’re now going to share four important facts about low sodium diets. Let’s begin!

Why do humans need sodium?

Salt in a shaker.
The main dietary contribution of sodium is the addition of salt to foods.

50% of table salt consists of sodium, the remaining element being chlorine. For this reason, common salt is chemically known as sodium chloride.

Salt is the biggest source of sodium in your diet. However, you ingest another small part of this mineral through foods and the salt added to foods during manufacturing processes.

Although sodium is essential for life, the body only needs a small amount of it. Consuming a lot of salt can be harmful to health.

This mineral is essential for ensuring that the body remains adequately hydrated, for cell exchange to take place successfully, and to maintain blood homeostasis, among others.

How can I know if a food is low in sodium?

To know if a food is low or rich in sodium, it’s important to read the labels, as they mention the amounts of sodium.

The amount of sodium is expressed in milligrams (mg). The column that appears on food labels expressed as a percentage of daily value refers to how much of each nutrient a food contains.

In this regard, foods that are low in sodium are those that have less than 5% of the daily needs of this mineral. On the other hand, those with 20% or more are considered foods high in sodium.

Other expressions that you can see on food labels are:

  • Sodium free. Less than 5 mg of sodium per serving.
  • Very low in sodium. 35 mg of sodium or less per serving.
  • Low in sodium. 140 mg of sodium or less per serving.
  • Reduced sodium. At least 25% less sodium per serving than the regular type.
  • No salt or no added salt. No additional salt has been added during food processing. However, the food itself may still contain sodium.

This article may interest you: 6 Ways to Reduce Sodium in Your Diet

Advantages of a low sodium diet

Foods rich in sodium.
Especially if you suffer from hypertension, you should follow a low sodium diet.

As we mentioned above, salt is essential for life but only in the right amounts. Reducing sodium to sustainable levels or just accepting the natural salt in foods is very beneficial. Below, we list some of them:

  • Lowers blood pressure. Excessive sodium intake can lead to hypertension, a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Reduces risks of suffering certain illnesses. Adopting these eating habits could relieve constipation or fluid retention.
  • Aids weight loss.

How to find the balance in a low sodium diet

Low sodium diets can help avoid all the complications that excess salt causes. However, as we already know, sodium is essential for proper bodily functioning. Therefore, we must find a balance.

Some recommendations for this are:

  • Don’t use salt when you’re cooking. Foods contain natural salt. To enhance the flavor of foods, you can use vinegar, spices, or lemon.
  • Change cooking methods. Cooking methods usually eliminate a lot of the natural flavor of foods. Learn how to steam, cook en papillote, or wrap foods in aluminum foil.
  • Look for more intense olive oils. They provide more associated benefits and give your diet an extra touch.

Finally, remember that reducing salt content is one of the goals of a healthy lifestyle designed by the World Health Organization (WHO). If you suffer from any related disease, your doctor will be able to indicate the best diet for you.

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We eat so much more salt than the recommended daily allowance. And we know that consuming too much salt can cause health problems.

  • Grillo A., Salvi L., Coruzzi P., Salvi P., et al., Sodium intake and hypertension. Nutrients, 2019.
  • O’Donnell M., Mann JFE., Schutte AE., Staessen JA., et al., Dietary sodium and cardvioascular disease risk. N Engl J Med, 2016. 375 (24): 2404-2406.