The Importance of a Low-Sodium Diet

Hi Friends!

I’m diving into week two of my internship orientation. I can’t wait to update you guys about how it’s going and tell you all about my rotation schedule, etc…but for now, suffice it to say i’m super busy and I’m giving a presentation today so I’m letting one of my lovely readers take over for me.

Megan emailed me a few weeks ago to ask if she could share her story on my blog. As you may have guessed from the title of this post, her story involves sodium. As a future RD, I believe sodium is one of the most important nutrition topics there is- namely because almost everyone eats way too much of it.

I hope you’re read her story and take her tips to heart. A low-sodium diet is SUCH an important part of a healthy lifestyle!

Take it away, Megan!

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 Hi everyone! My name is Megan and I write over at The Delightfull Dash. I started my blog a few months ago to document my journey of getting fit while running and following a healthy vegetarian diet.

I approached Lindsay about an issue that is very dear to both of us, and she has been so kind to let me write a guest post while she’s getting acquainted with her dietetic internship schedule. So excited for her!

After years of gaining weight, dieting, losing weight, and gaining it all back again, my turning point for getting healthy once and for all came back in February of this year. My fiancé, Mark, got really sick, and we thought he had pneumonia. After calling 911 and rushing him to the hospital, it turned out things were a lot worse.

His blood pressure was through the roof (his BP was 270/180 when he got to the ER), his kidneys had shut down, his heart was failing, and his lungs were full of fluid. He had to be put in a medically induced coma and given immediate dialysis treatment to prevent him from dying. He was in the ICU for five days and in the hospital for a total of five weeks. He’s on permanent dialysis now (3x/week), and will need a kidney transplant. It’s been a serious wake up call.

MeganMark The Importance of a Low Sodium Diet

It turns out that he had been losing kidney function for years and didn’t know it. This was because of his uncontrolled high blood pressure. Not only is high blood pressure rough on your heart, it’s a killer for your kidneys. It turns out that one of the main causes of high blood pressure is a high sodium diet.

Salt is lurking everywhere in your food, even in places you would never expect! While some salt is necessary for your body to function properly, it’s very easy to get too much if you don’t watch your diet.

Here are some tips for controlling your sodium intake:

1. Go easy with the salt shaker

You can season your food so many other ways. Use fresh and dried herbs, spices, and garlic to pack a flavor punch. There are many spice blends that are available; just be sure to choose the ones that are low sodium or sodium free. Mrs. Dash is a great salt-free choice.

2. Read the food labels!

Food labels can trick you if you’re not careful. Look at the amount of sodium, as well as the serving size. A food may appear to be low in sodium, but if the serving size is 1/8th of the package and you eat the entire thing in one sitting, it’s no longer a healthy choice.

Check out this guide on what to look for when reading a food label.

3. Beware of frozen foods

Frozen foods, especially meats and packaged dinners, are notorious for being loaded with salt. If you can make it fresh yourself, go that route. If not, check the label and choose low sodium options.

4. Look for hidden culprits

Some high sodium foods may surprise you. Deli meats, bread, soup, chips, nuts, dressings, sauces, marinades, and some desserts often have a lot of salt. Again, read the food labels and make wise choices!

5. Be smart when dining out

You can often find nutrition information for menu items at the restaurant or on its web site. If it’s not displayed, just ask.

6. Ask a medical professional

I’m not a registered dietitian or doctor, so I’m speaking from my personal experience. Everyone has different medical issues and dietary needs. When in doubt, consult a medical professional. I’m sure Lindsay can point you in the right direction!

I hope these tips will help you make better choices! Your health is #1!

Here is the recipe for my Balsamic Portobello Panini with Pineapple Salsa. Low sodium of course!

PortobelloPanini The Importance of a Low Sodium Diet

Ingredients:

  • portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 can pineapple in juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow or red tomato
  • olive oil
  • arugula
  • ciabatta or multigrain bread
  • lowfat spicy mayo
  • provolone cheese (optional)

1. Remove gills from portobello mushrooms (I used the edge of a spoon).

2. Drain pineapple juice from can into a bowl. Set pineapple aside.

3. Add balsamic vinegar and garlic to the pineapple juice. Whisk until combined.

4. Brush both sides of portobello mushrooms generously with the vinegar and pineapple marinade and let sit for at least 10-15 minutes.

5. Grill the portobello mushrooms until cooked through (my panini grill worked great).

6. Dice the tomato and pineapple and combine to create the salsa.

7. Brush 2 slices of bread with olive oil (one side only). Spread spicy mayo on the other side of each bread slice and layer portabello mushrooms. Create sandwich (add provolone cheese if desired).

8. Place sandwich on panini grill or grill pan. Grill until golden brown.

9. Remove sandwich from grill and add tomato-pineapple salsa and arugula. Enjoy!

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Your turn! You tell us:

Do you watch your salt intake?  
Do you check the label for sodium content before buying processed foods?
What are some of your favorite low-sodium products and recipes?

Enjoy!
–Lindsay–