Low Sodium Diet - A Healthier Lifestyle Choice
Foods often have many hidden levels of sodium and salt within them, making lifestyle choices tough when we need to make changes and adapt to new diets and routines.
That said, sodium is a vitally important mineral that humans must have in their diets as a lot of our bodies functions depends upon it. There for, learning how much and what is the best sodium/salt for our bodies is a must - especially for people who need to lower their intake due to health problems.
As many of us are aware of, having too much sodium in our diets can be extremely bad for us. With what seems to be a never ending list of food containing high levels of sodium, making shopping for lower salt foods a nightmare, here at BBQ BOX UK we will look into what food options you have and what ones to avoid.
There are many benefits to engaging in a lower salt and sodium diet which experts say can include; lowering the risk of stomach cancer, lowering high blood pressure, lowering the risks of cardio vascular health problems and conditions and improve the general quality of your diet.
** Note - The minimum amount a human being should eat per day of sodium is 500mg per day. There for it is recommended before beginning such a diet that you speak to a health care professional, a dietician or nutritionist.**
What Is Sodium?
Sodium is an important mineral required to help our bodies work. Medical experts state that we require at least 500mg per day of sodium for our bodies to function. Sodium is used to regulate fluids within the body, for cellular function, electrolyte balance and for regulating our blood pressure. Our kidneys closely and continuously monitor how much sodium is in our body.
Sodium is found in all the food groups though lower amounts are in wholefoods such as poultry, vegetables, fruits and fish. It is also considered that plant based food options contain lower amounts of sodium compared to meat based options.
Food which have been heavily processed, such as chips, pizza, crisps and ham are found to have a lot more sodium in them. This is due to manufactures using cheaper cuts and/or wanting to extend the shelf life of products.
Another high contributor to excessive sodium consumption is adding salt to food such as table salt.
What Is A Low Sodium Diet?
A low sodium diet limits the intake a salt and sodium that a person consumes through food and drink. Typically the diet will reduce a persons intake to 2 to 3g of salt per day (2000 to 3000mg). To give an idea of what this would amount to an example of 2g of sodium with equal 3/4 of a teaspoon.
Low sodium diets are commonly prescribed in hospital settings and often, health care professionals will recommend this form of diet to help treat and control high blood pressure and heart disease. There has been a lot of research into low sodium diets which has shown positive effects for treating several medical conditions - which is why they are commonly followed and recommended in medical settings.
When engaging in a low sodium diet it is important to either limit or avoid foods high in sodium. If you are looking to begin a low sodium diet it is recommended that you speak with a health care professional prior to beginning.
Many years ago, before we had refrigerators, salt was commonly used as a preserving agent allowing meat, fish and vegetables to be kept for a lot longer with out decomposing.
When we are looking for food that are lower in sodium and salt it is best to avoid the snack, frozen food and tinned aisles in the supermarket. Sodium and salt are often added into these food groups in larger amounts in order to extend the produces shelf life.
Diseases Where Low Sodium Diets May Be Recommended:
- Kidney Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Disease
These diseases often recommend following a low sodium diet as doing so has seen the disease is more manageable and symptoms are less severe.
Benefits Of A Low Sodium Diet:
There are many benefits to following a low sodium diet which include; may help to reduce high blood pressure, may help to reduce the risk of stomach cancer and that it may improve a persons quality of food in their every day diet.
If you are looking into following a diet which is low in sodium, then here is a list of food products you should try to avoid as these foods typically contain the highest levels of salt and sodium.
⦁ Fast food: Burgers, fries, chicken fingers, pizza, etc.
⦁ Salty snack foods: Salted pretzels, chips, salted nuts, salted crackers, etc.
⦁ Frozen dinners: Frozen meat dishes, frozen pizza, etc.
⦁ Processed meats: Bacon, sausage, lunch meats and hot dogs.
⦁ Salted, canned products: Vegetables, pastas, meats, fish, etc.
⦁ Salty soups: Canned soups and packaged soups.
⦁ Cheese and dairy: Cheese, cheese spreads, cottage cheese, buttermilk, salted butter and cheese sauce.
⦁ High-sodium baked goods: Salted rolls, salted bagels, croutons and crackers.
⦁ Baking mixes: High-sodium waffle, pancake or cake mixes.
⦁ Boxed meals: Macaroni and cheese, pasta meals, rice meals, etc.
⦁ High-sodium side dishes: Stuffing, boxed au gratin potatoes, hash browns and rice pilaf.
⦁ Sauces and condiments: Gravy, soy sauce, commercial tomato sauce, salsa and salad dressing.
⦁ Pickled vegetables: Pickles, olives and sauerkraut.
⦁ Certain drinks: Regular vegetable juice, juice blends and salty alcoholic beverages.
⦁ Seasonings: Salt and salt blends.
Although there are always foods which are naturally lower in sodium such as chicken, fish and vegetables, packed foods, snacks and fast food are found to be much higher. It is recommended to avoid these foods and look for salt free alternatives.
Low Sodium Foods To Enjoy:
It can be quite daunting trying to follow a low sodium diet, especially if you are a person who enjoys salted chips or processed meats. However with an ever growing choice of salt free food alternatives, your worries should disappear!
⦁ Fresh and frozen vegetables (without sauces): Greens, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, etc.
⦁ Fresh, frozen or dried fruits: Berries, apples, bananas, pears, etc.
⦁ Grains and beans: Dried beans, brown rice, farro, quinoa and whole wheat pasta.
⦁ Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and parsnips.
⦁ Fresh or frozen meat and poultry: Chicken, turkey, beef or pork.
⦁ Fresh or frozen fish: Cod, sea bass, tuna, etc.
⦁ Eggs: Whole eggs and egg whites.
⦁ Healthy fats: Olive oil, avocado and avocado oil.
⦁ Low-sodium soups: Low-sodium canned or homemade soups.
⦁ Dairy products: Milk, yogurt, unsalted butter and low-sodium cheeses.
⦁ Bread and baked goods: Whole-wheat bread, low-sodium tortillas and unsalted crackers.
⦁ Unsalted nuts and seeds: Pumpkin seeds, almonds, peanuts, etc.
⦁ Low-sodium snack foods: Unsalted pretzels, unsalted popcorn and unsalted tortilla chips.
⦁ Low-sodium condiments: Vinegar, mayonnaise, low-sodium salad dressing and low-sodium sauces.
⦁ Low-sodium beverages: Tea, coffee, low-sodium vegetable juice and water.
⦁ Low-sodium seasonings: Garlic powder, no-salt blends, herbs and spices.
Cooking your meals from scratch using natural whole food ingredients is a great way to monitor your sodium intake - it is also thought to be far healthier than shop bought, ready made meals.
Food Prep Tips For A Low Sodium Diet:
One of the most common worries for those beginning a low sodium diet is; 'my food will taste bland' or 'How can I make my food taste good without salt'. These common fears will quickly and easily disappear if you try our tips on how to inject some flavour into your dishes without the use of salt.
One product which is a great aid in bringing flavour without the use of salt is the Middle Eastern spice seasoning 'sumac spice'. Known for its salt/lemon like taste, this seasoning is a great way to bring out the natural flavour of your ingredients without the need of sodium.
BBQ BOX UK's range features a wide variety of salt and sodium free seasonings which have been produced using premium, natural ingredients. Packed full of flavour, these seasonings are great for use on a wide range of meat, fish and vegetable dishes and are perfect for those who are following a low salt diet! We also have a ever growing list of salt free recipes which can give you some great ideas for spicing up your meal times!
The Bottom Line:
Low sodium diets may help monitor, manage and help a wide range of diseases from high BP to heart disease. However consuming too little or not enough sodium can have a negative effect on your health also. It is also worth remembering that this diet is extremely strict on what you can consume and there for is not suitable for most people. It is recommended to only follow such a diet if you have been advised to by health care professionals.
If you are someone looking to follow a low salt diet then it is worth avoiding foods which are processes, fast food joints and tinned foods. Sticking with fresh wholefoods and cooking from scratch is a great way to monitor what exactly is going into your meals.