Low-sodium diets or diets containing between 1,500 mg and 2,000 mg of sodium per day, are essential to a healthy diet. Furthermore, if you are African American, are over 40 years old or have high blood pressure, you should keep your sodium intake to no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Sodium is necessary for nerve transmission, nutrient transport, nutrient absorption, maintaining normal blood volume and for normal blood pressure. Excessive sodium intake leads to abnormal levels of fluid retention in your body, culminating in higher than normal blood volume levels. When your blood volume remains high for an extended period of time, your blood pressure rises. Prolonged high blood pressure can lead to heart disease and kidney disease.
One adult sandwich at your favorite fast food eatery contains practically your entire day’s sodium allotment. An otherwise healthy grilled chicken sandwich has as much as 1,000 milligrams of sodium. Commercially prepared soups including canned soup and soups at restaurants are loaded with sodium, averaging between 1,000 and 1,700 milligrams of sodium per serving. Sprinkling even just ¼ teaspoon of salt over your food adds 600 milligrams of sodium, almost half of your total if you are following a 1,500-milligram low-sodium plan.
DASH stands for the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet was created by the National Institutes of Health; it is based on a clinical study that tested the effects of nutrients in food on blood pressure. It promotes a low-sodium intake of 1,500 to 2,300 mg per day in addition to increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables. On the DASH plan, you eat 4 to 5 servings of fruits and 4 to 5 servings of vegetables each day.
Decreasing your daily sodium intake, if you generally eat about 4,000 mg per day, down to 2,000 mg per day, has been shown to lower blood pressure by 2 to 3 mm Hg if you have normal blood pressure, according to a July/August 2007 article by Dr. Shelby Scott, published in “ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal.” Increasing your fiber intake from fruits, vegetables and whole grains can also lower your blood pressure by 1.2 to 1.3 mm Hg, according to the article.
- Cleveland Clinic: Low Sodium Diet Guidelines
- American Heart Association: Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations; May 2010
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Most Americans Should Consume Less Sodium
- Linus Pauling Institute; Sodium; Jane Higdon; February 2004
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure with DASH
- “ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal”; Essential Hypertension: Lifestyle Intervention Treatments; Shelby Scott, M.D.; July/August 2007
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.