Low Sodium Diet Plan For High Blood Pressure

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Low sodium diet plan for high blood pressure includes consuming fewer salt or sodium-rich foods a day. It is advisable to have a low-salt diet if you have high blood pressure (hypertension). This diet plan can help you manage high blood pressure by lowering the salt content in your body and reducing the water retention in your body.

What Is a Low-Sodium Diet?

Sodium is an essential mineral involved in many important bodily functions, including cellular function, fluid regulation, electrolyte balance and maintaining blood pressure.

Because this mineral is vital to life, your kidneys tightly regulate its levels based on the concentration (osmolarity) of bodily fluids.

Sodium is found in most foods you eat — though whole foods like vegetables, fruits and poultry contain much lower amounts.

Plant-based foods like fresh produce generally have less sodium than animal-based foods, such as meat and dairy products.

Sodium is most concentrated in processed and packaged foods like chips, frozen dinners and fast food where salt is added during processing to enhance flavor.

Another major contributor to sodium intake is adding salt to food when preparing meals in your kitchen and as a seasoning before eating.

A low-sodium diet limits high-sodium foods and beverages.

Healthcare professions typically recommend these diets to treat conditions such as high blood pressure or heart disease.

Although there are variations, sodium intake is generally kept to less than 2–3 grams (2,000–3,000 mg) per day.

For reference, one teaspoon of salt contains about 2,300 mg of sodium.

When following a low-sodium diet, foods high in sodium must be limited or completely avoided to keep your sodium intake under the recommended level.

SUMMARY

Healthcare professionals recommend low-sodium diets to treat certain medical conditions. Sodium levels are typically restricted to less than 2–3 grams (2,000–3,000 mg) per day.

Why Are Low-Sodium Diets Prescribed?

Low-sodium diets are some of the most commonly used diets in hospital settings.

This is because research shows that restricting sodium may help control or improve certain medical conditions.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease, such as chronic kidney disease (CKD) or kidney failure, negatively impacts kidney function.

When your kidneys are compromised, they’re unable to effectively remove excess sodium or fluid from your body.

If sodium and fluid levels become too high, pressure builds in your blood, which can cause further damage to already compromised kidneys.

For these reasons, The National Kidney Foundation recommends that all people with CKD restrict their sodium intake to less than 2 grams (2,000 mg) per day.

A review of 11 studies in people with CKD found that moderate sodium restriction significantly reduced blood pressure and protein in the urine (a marker of kidney damage).

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a risk factor for various conditions, including heart disease and stroke.

A high-sodium diet has been linked to elevated blood pressure.

For example, a recent study in 766 people demonstrated that those with the highest urinary sodium excretion had the highest blood pressure levels.

Many studies have shown that reducing salt intake may help decrease high blood pressure in people with elevated levels.

A review of six studies in more than 3,000 people showed that salt restriction lowered blood pressure in adults — with the strongest impact observed in those with high blood pressure,

Salt-sensitivity of people with high blood pressure varies widely and certain subgroups — such as African Americans — tend to be more impacted by high-salt diets.

Nevertheless, low-sodium diets are commonly prescribed as a natural treatment for all people with high blood pressure.

Benefits of a Low-Sodium Diet

Following a low-sodium diet may benefit health in several ways.

May Reduce Blood Pressure

As stated above, a low-sodium diet may help decrease blood pressure.

Studies have shown that transitioning to a low-sodium diet can lead to small yet significant changes in blood pressure, especially in people with elevated levels.

A review of 34 studies demonstrated that a modest reduction in salt intake for four or more weeks led to significant reductions in blood pressure in people with both high and normal levels.

In the participants with high blood pressure, the average reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure was 5.39 mmHg and 2.82 mmHg, respectively.

By comparison, people with normal levels noticed a 2.42 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure (the top number of a reading) and 1.00 mmHg reduction in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of a reading).

May Help Decrease Cancer Risk

High-salt diets have been linked to certain types of cancers, including of the stomach.

A review of 76 studies in more than 6,300,000 people found that for every five-gram increase of dietary salt per day — from high-salt processed foods — the risk of stomach cancer increased by 12%.

Research has shown that high-salt diets can damage the mucosal lining of your stomach and increase inflammation and the growth of H. Pylori bacteria — all of which may raise stomach cancer risk.

On the other hand, a diet low in high-sodium processed foods and rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of stomach cancer.

DASH diet: Healthy eating to lower your blood pressure

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is a healthy-eating plan designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure (hypertension).

The DASH diet includes foods that are rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium. These nutrients help control blood pressure. The diet limits foods that are high in sodium, saturated fat and added sugars.

DASH diet and sodium

The DASH diet is lower in sodium than a typical American diet, which can include a whopping 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium or more a day.

The standard DASH diet limits sodium to 2,300 mg a day. It meets the recommendation from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to keep daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 mg a day. That’s roughly the amount of sodium in 1 teaspoon of table salt.

A lower sodium version of DASH restricts sodium to 1,500 mg a day. You can choose the version of the diet that meets your health needs. If you aren’t sure what sodium level is right for you, talk to your doctor.

DASH diet: What to eat

The DASH diet is a flexible and balanced eating plan that helps create a heart-healthy eating style for life. It’s easy to follow using foods found at your grocery store.

The DASH diet is rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains. It includes fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, beans and nuts. It limits foods that are high in saturated fat, such as fatty meats and full-fat dairy products.

When following DASH, it is important to choose foods that are:

  • Rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber and protein
  • Low in saturated fat
  • Low in sodium

DASH diet: Recommended servings

The DASH diet provides daily and weekly nutritional goals. The number of servings you should have depends on your daily calorie needs.

Here’s a look at the recommended servings from each food group for a 2,000-calorie-a-day DASH diet:

  • Grains: 6 to 8 servings a day. One serving is one slice bread, 1 ounce dry cereal, or 1/2 cup cooked cereal, rice or pasta.
  • Vegetables: 4 to 5 servings a day. One serving is 1 cup raw leafy green vegetable, 1/2 cup cut-up raw or cooked vegetables, or 1/2 cup vegetable juice.
  • Fruits: 4 to 5 servings a day. One serving is one medium fruit, 1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit, or 1/2 cup fruit juice.
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy products: 2 to 3 servings a day. One serving is 1 cup milk or yogurt, or 1 1/2 ounces cheese.
  • Lean meats, poultry and fish: six 1-ounce servings or fewer a day. One serving is 1 ounce cooked meat, poultry or fish, or 1 egg.
  • Nuts, seeds and legumes: 4 to 5 servings a week. One serving is 1/3 cup nuts, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, 2 tablespoons seeds, or 1/2 cup cooked legumes (dried beans or peas).
  • Fats and oils: 2 to 3 servings a day. One serving is 1 teaspoon soft margarine, 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon mayonnaise or 2 tablespoons salad dressing.
  • Sweets and added sugars: 5 servings or fewer a week. One serving is 1 tablespoon sugar, jelly or jam, 1/2 cup sorbet, or 1 cup lemonade.

Take aim at sodium

The foods at the center of the DASH diet are naturally low in sodium. So just by following the DASH diet, you’re likely to lower your intake of sodium.

You can further reduce sodium by:

  • Using sodium-free spices or flavorings instead of salt
  • Not adding salt when cooking rice, pasta or hot cereal
  • Choosing plain fresh, frozen or canned vegetables
  • Choosing fresh or frozen skinless poultry, fish, and lean cuts of meat
  • Reading food labels and choosing low-sodium or no-salt-added options

As you cut back on processed, high-sodium foods, you may notice that food tastes different. It may take time for your palate to adjust. But once it does, you may find you prefer the DASH way of eating.

Sample menus for the DASH diet

Day 1 menu

Breakfast

  • 1 store-bought (commercial) whole-wheat bagel with 2 tablespoons peanut butter (no salt added)
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • Decaffeinated coffee

Lunch

  • Spinach salad made with:
    • 4 cups of fresh spinach leaves
    • 1 sliced pear
    • 1/2 cup canned mandarin orange sections
    • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
    • 2 tablespoons red wine vinaigrette
  • 12 reduced-sodium wheat crackers
  • 1 cup fat-free milk

Dinner

  • Herb-crusted baked cod, 3 ounces cooked (about 4 ounces raw)
  • 1/2 cup brown rice pilaf with vegetables
  • 1/2 cup fresh green beans, steamed
  • 1 small sourdough roll
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh berries with chopped mint
  • Herbal iced tea

Snack (anytime)

  • 1 cup fat-free, low-calorie yogurt
  • 4 vanilla wafers
Day 1 nutritional analysis
Calories:2,015Cholesterol:70 mg
Total fat:70 gSodium:1,607 mg
Saturated fat:10 gTotal carbohydrate:267 g
Trans fat:0 gDietary fiber:39 g
Monounsaturated fat:25 gTotal sugars:109 g
Potassium:3,274 mgProtein:90 g
Calcium:1,298 mgMagnesium:394 mg
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Day 1 DASH servings
Grains and grain products:7
Vegetables:5
Fruits:5
Dairy foods (low-fat or fat-free):3
Meats, poultry and fish:3
Nuts, seeds and dry beans:2
Fats and oils:3
Sweets:1
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Day 2 menu

Breakfast

  • 1 cup fresh mixed fruits, such as melons, banana, apple and berries, topped with 1 cup fat-free, low-calorie vanilla-flavored yogurt and 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 bran muffin
  • 1 teaspoon trans-free margarine
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • Herbal tea

Lunch

  • Curried chicken wrap made with:
    • 1 medium whole-wheat tortilla
    • 2/3 cup cooked, chopped chicken, about 3 ounces
    • 1/2 cup chopped apple
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons light mayonnaise*
    • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 cup, or about 8, raw baby carrots
  • 1 cup fat-free milk

Dinner

  • 1 cup cooked whole-wheat spaghetti with 1 cup marinara sauce, no added salt
  • 2 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1 tablespoon low-fat Caesar dressing
  • 1 small whole-wheat roll
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 nectarine
  • Sparkling water

Snack (anytime)

  • Trail mix made with:
    • 1/4 cup raisins
    • 1 ounce, or about 22, unsalted mini twist pretzels
    • 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

*Fat-free spreads still have calories, so count as 1 fat serving.

Day 2 nutritional analysis
Calories:2,165Cholesterol:101 mg
Total fat:72 gSodium:1,855 mg
Saturated fat:11 gTotal carbohydrate:311 g
Trans fat:0 gDietary fiber:36 g
Monounsaturated fat:14 gTotal sugars:125 g
Potassium:4,026 mgProtein:95 g
Calcium:1,363 mgMagnesium:507 mg
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Day 2 DASH servings
Grains and grain products:7
Vegetables:5
Fruits:5
Dairy foods (low-fat or fat-free):3
Meats, poultry and fish:3
Nuts, seeds and dry beans:2
Fats and oils:3
Sweets:0
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Day 3 menu

Breakfast

  • 1 cup old-fashioned cooked oatmeal* topped with 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 slice whole-wheat toast
  • 1 teaspoon trans-free margarine
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup fat-free milk

Lunch

  • Tuna salad made with:
    • 1/2 cup drained, unsalted water-packed tuna, 3 ounces
    • 2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
    • 15 grapes
    • 1/4 cup diced celery
    • Served on top of 2 1/2 cups romaine lettuce
  • 8 Melba toast crackers
  • 1 cup fat-free milk

Dinner

  • Beef and vegetable kebab, made with:
    • 3 ounces of beef
    • 1 cup of peppers, onions, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked wild rice
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • Cran-raspberry spritzer made with:
    • 4 ounces cran-raspberry juice
    • 4 to 8 ounces sparkling water

Snack (anytime)

  • 1 cup light yogurt
  • 1 medium peach

*To further reduce sodium, don’t add salt when cooking the oatmeal.

Day 3 nutritional analysis
Calories:1,868Cholesterol:114 mg
Total fat:45 gSodium:1,332 mg
Saturated fat:7 gTotal carbohydrate:277 g
Monounsaturated fat:19 gDietary fiber:29 g
Potassium:4,170 mgTotal sugars:125 g
Calcium:1,083 mgProtein:103 g
Magnesium:423 mg
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Day 3 DASH servings
Grains and grain products:6
Vegetables:5
Fruits:5
Dairy foods (low-fat or fat-free):3
Meats, poultry and fish:6
Nuts, seeds and dry beans:1
Fats and oils:3
Sweets:0
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