Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Living the Low Salt Life as a Heart Failure Patient

When you have heart failure, it is important to decrease the amount of sodium in your diet. Salt acts like a sponge, making your body hold on to extra water.

Eating too much of it can cause weight gain, increased blood pressure, make legs and feet swell and cause water to go to the lungs.  This makes your heart work harder and worsens heart failure systems. 

Check with your doctor to see how much salt you can have in a day. Most doctors recommend less than 2,000 milligrams (mg) or salt each day.

How much salt in a teaspoon?
  • 1 teaspoon of salt = 2000 mg of sodium
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda = 821 mg of sodium
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder = 339 mg of sodium

Read food labels to help figure out how much salt is in the food. A good rule of thumb is to choose foods with less than 250 mg of sodium per serving.

Remember, a serving size is not necessarily an entire container of food. If a can contains 3 servings and you eat the whole can, multiply the sodium per serving by 3.

Read the Label - Serving Sizes

  •  A can of soup has 300 mg of sodium per serving
  • The can has 2 servings.
  • You eat the whole can, or 2 servings.
  • So you would have 300 mg x 2 or 600 mg of sodium.
Compare salt (sodium) in foods you eat often, especially processed foods like soup, lunch meat, cheese and frozen meals.  Sort the foods into higher or lower sodium groups.

To lower your sodium intake, stop adding salt to food during cooking. Try taking the salt shaker off the table and add other seasonings to add flavor such as lemon juice, onion or garlic power, or herbs.

Avoid high sodium foods like canned foods, hot dogs, cheese and cheese spreads, deli meats, bacon,  ketchup, soy sauce, salad dressings, barbecue sauce, and frozen meals that are high in sodium.

Replace high sodium foods with fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, low fat milk, reduced sodium cheese and cereals low in sodium. When you go out to eat, choose food on the menu marked “healthy choice” or “low sodium”. Ask for sauces and salad dressings “on the side” and ask the waiter for low salt recommendations.