Monday, November 29, 2010

Question of the week: Help with a Low Salt Diet!!!!

The following question was submitted by one of my readers, " 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?"

Although you may seem overwhelmed with a new "dietary restriction", there is no need to worry. Many of the foods that you are now including in your diet as you are watching your carb intake and watching your weight for prediabetes may already fall into this category. Many companies have come out with reduced salt and sodium free varieties of their products to accommodate consumers.

Just because you don't use your salt shaker doesn't mean that you aren't eating a diet that is high in sodium. Sodium is hidden in many of the foods that we eat on a daily basis.

Your body does require some sodium in order to maintain blood volume levels and controls fluid balance in the body. Sodium(salt) becomes a problem when amounts get too high. High sodium levels in the diet can also cause fluid retention. Shortness of breath may result if fluid retention occurs around the lungs. The current daily recommendations for sodium intake are for less than 2300 mg (milligrams) daily. That is equivalent to only one teaspoon daily (6 grams)! Studies show that people with a sodium intake of 1500 mg and lower were able to reduce their blood pressure.

Tips to Reduce Sodium Intake

1. Read your labels! Choose low sodium varieties when available.

2. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables!

3. Instead of using bottled salad dressings - try vinegar and olive oil. Dip your fork instead of pouring!

4. Limit the amount of prepared foods that you eat. This includes all frozen, canned, and boxed foods. *Exception: frozen fruits and veggies

5. If you choose to use canned vegetables/beans, search for low sodium varieties. When using canned vegetables, rinse the product with cold water and a strainer to try and reduce some of the sodium.

6. When eating out, request for sauces/gravies/dressings on the side, or ask the kitchen to not use any added salt or MSG.

7. Monitor your cheese intake. Use low sodium varieties or use smaller amounts. Grated and shredded allow you to use a little bit to get the most flavor.

8. Season your dishes with black or red pepper, garlic, onion, fresh or dried herbs and spices. Try a spice or herb blend like a sodium free Mrs. Dash.

9. Reduce or eliminate processed, canned, smoked, or cured meats as they are high in sodium levels. Choose tuna that are packed in water and rinse with fresh water when possible.

10. Read the labels on the cereals and breads that you purchase. Many of them have high sodium levels that you might not even be aware of.

11. When choosing snacks, look for salt-free or reduced salt nuts.

12. TASTE YOUR FOOD FIRST. So many people pick up that salt shaker and blindly season before they even take one bite.

Other Foods that are generally higher in sodium include:

*Processed foods
*Canned Soups / Condensed Soups
*Frozen Meals / Dinners
*Dried Soup Mixes and Side Dishes
*Processed Meats / Cured Meats / Cold Cuts / Cheese
*Canned Vegetables / Canned Beans

**Keep in mind that some seasonings do have salt/sodium in them. Products such as Seasoning Salt and Garlic Salt should be substituted with other low sodium products.

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