Limiting Sodium and Caring for your Heart

Kara Kayzar

Wellness Writer

Be “SOUP-er” smart and take care of your heart! In honor of our previous month of February coming to an end, It’s never too late to know your risks.

Statistics show that heart disease is the leading cause of death and kills just about (1 in every 5) people, equaling about 697,000 deaths in the United States being from heart disease in 2020. With heart disease being the leading cause of death, knowing your risks and signs is crucial before things get serious.

Heart disease is a broad term used to describe various diseases affecting your heart. Heart disease includes secondary to your blood vessels, such as coronary artery disease, heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), heart infections, and heart defects you are born with (congenital heart defects).

Within each of these diseases, there are common signs and symptoms to always look out for: fever, shortness of breath, numbness, pain (chest), weakness, and fatigue. To avoid and catch heart disease from irreversible damage, it is essential to watch for these signs and symptoms daily if you are at risk.

Diet plays a huge role in disease prevention. What are some of my risks when it is related to heart disease?

Sodium in the diet? How much is too much, and when to know and how to avoid it?

When we consume too much sodium, it can increase water retention, which can lead to puffiness, bloating, and weight gain. Not only will it cause these adverse effects, but too much sodium puts you at risk for heart complications. Some of those can include; enlarged heart muscle, headaches, kidney disease, stroke, heart failure, and high blood pressure.

How much sodium should I be consuming?

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day; and is moving towards an ideal limit of 1,500 mg per day for most adults. Fun fact, on average, Americans eat more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day. The body only needs a small amount of sodium to function properly; about 500 mg of sodium is sufficient to perform everyday tasks.

A few ways to reduce your sodium intake are straightforward. Even cutting back by 1,000 milligrams daily can significantly improve blood pressure and heart health. Look for products with the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark when shopping. Choose packaged and prepared foods carefully. Compare labels and choose the product with the lowest amount of sodium (per serving). Opt for canned vegetables labeled “no salt added” and frozen vegetables without salty sauces. When cooking, use onions, garlic, herbs, spices, citrus juices, and vinegar instead of some or all of the salt to add flavor (always taste before adding salt).

Get Checked. It is always encouraged that all Americans over the age of 45 visit their doctor if they are at risk of heart disease, regardless if it is genetic or from a poor diet. You, too, can change your risks by cutting out sodium and checking in with a medical professional.

CDC. Heart disease Facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

American Heart Association Published 2018.