Sodium and heart failure nutrition
Are salt and sodium the same? It can feel like the two terms are interchangeable, but in fact sodium is just one of the minerals present in salt. Sodium can have negative effects on blood pressure and the development of heart disease, so it’s important to know how your diet affects your heart health, especially when you’re facing heart failure.
In this short video, Prisma Health dietitian Lisa Akly, RDN, explains the importance of nutrition and limiting sodium for those with heart failure.
“From a nutritional standpoint, salt is salt regardless of its description,” said Akly. While some variations on salt are said to be ‘healthier’ than others, this isn’t really the case. Himalayan pink salts have the same effect on your health as your average table salt.
For those with a diagnosis of heart failure, controlling and limiting your sodium intake can help you to minimize the pain and discomfort that come along with symptoms of heart failure. As more than 70% of the sodium Americans eat comes from already-processed or restaurant-created foods, sticking to eating at home and taking easy steps to limit sodium can create a huge difference in how much salt your body takes in.
Akly offered a few options to help cut salt from your diet, including:
- Cooking at home, which allows you to precisely control how much salt is used during cooking
- Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, which are naturally low in sodium
- Rinse canned vegetables before using them in cooking, which removes much of their sodium
- Avoid highly processed foods and meats, like hot dogs
- Check nutrition labels before purchasing an item. Is the sodium level high or low? 140 mg or less would be low-sodium, and more than 140 mg would be a high-sodium food.
- Try to stick to no more than 600 mg of sodium per meal, as recommended by the FDA.
- And more
Even if you aren’t struggling with heart disease or heart failure, making these choices still helps to create a healthier diet and supports your body’s nutritional needs. Nutritionists like Lisa Akly can help patients to take a closer look at their home pantries and build a better meal from the ground up.
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