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The low sodium diet (low salt diet) was developed for people who have or are at risk for developing hypertension (high blood pressure) and its complications. Hypertension is a dangerous disease because it often presents with no symptoms yet can do severe damage to the heart and arteries of the body. This includes making the heart work too hard and hardening the walls of the arteries, which can lead to serious complications, such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, stroke, and blindness. One out of every three American adults has hypertension (blood pressure higher than 140/90 mmHg), according to the National Institutes of Health. Another 59 million Americans have pre-hypertension, a precursor to hypertension (blood pressure between 120/80 and 140/89 mmHg). The typical American eats many times the recommended amount of sodium, increasing their risk of hypertension. Current research has shown that a diet that is low in sodium combined with healthy lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight and participating in regular exercise, can lower the risk of developing hypertension and can lower blood pressure in those people who have the condition.
There are a variety of recommendations for a low sodium diet that range from 1.5 grams (1,500 mg) to 2.4 grams (2,400 mg) per day. This range is equal to a teaspoon or less of sodium per day. Low sodium diets generally focus on avoiding processed, canned, and pre-packaged foods, which are often higher in "hidden" sodium than people realize. There are, however, many canned, frozen, and pre-packaged foods that are labelled "no salt added" or "low sodium" that make sticking to a low sodium diet easier. People on a low sodium diet need to become good "label readers" in order to really understand how much sodium is in the foods they eat. A low sodium diet also stresses a diet high in unprocessed fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, poultry, and low-sodium carbohydrates and dairy products. A low sodium diet also recommends not adding extra salt to foods at the table and cooking all foods and carbohydrates, such as rice, pasta, and hot cereals, without adding extra salt. Salt substitutes may be used to add a salty flavour to food, but salt substitutes can be dangerous for some people. This is because salt substitutes replace sodium with potassium, which can result in unsafe, high levels of potassium in the body for some people on some medications. It is recommended that you check with your health care provider because before using salt substitutes. Spices and herbs are also recommended to add flavour to food in place of salt. A low sodium diet also stresses the importance of moderating alcohol intake.
As with any diet plan, optimal results for health are achieved when a well-balanced low sodium diet plan is combined with a sensible exercise program, maintaining an optimal weight, and healthy lifestyle changes, as recommended in the DASH diet plan. People on a low sodium diet should not stop taking antihypertensive medications without the recommendation of a health care provider. All diets have the potential to be harmful for some people, so consultation with a health care provider before starting a los sodium diet plan and exercise program is recommended.
Other names for this diet (Low Sodium Diet) include:
Other diets similar to Low Sodium Diet include:
Conditions associated with Low Sodium Diet include:
The following foods may be restricted or excluded from Low Sodium Diet:
The following foods may be focused on as part of Low Sodium Diet:
The following are potential risks or complications of the diet (Low Sodium Diet):
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