Sodium is a mineral. Everybody needs Salt/Sodium to regulate Blood Pressure (BP) and Blood Volume. We need salt also for the proper nerves and muscle function. Although sodium is an essential nutrient a high sodium diet is considered one of the risk factors associated with high BP, which can cause heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.
Almost all foods contain some sodium naturally. Dairy products, meats and fish are generally higher in natural sodium than fruits, vegetables and grains. Most of the sodium we consume comes from added salt, salt we add in cooking and at the table, and salt that is added to processed foods. Sodium also occurs in several commonly used food ingredients, such as baking soda, baking powder and soya sauce, as well as in many food additives and preservatives such as sodium nitrate.
To reduce amount of sodium in your diet:
Follow these simple guidelines:
1. Remove the saltshaker from the table
Most of the Sodium in our diets comes from salt added to food during cooking and at the table. Using less salt is one of the easiest ways to lower your sodium intake.
2. Go easy on spices and condiments:
To increase food palatability try adding new flavours like lemon/lime juice, onion, garlic, green chilies, pepper, vinegar or even a pinch of sugar/honey/jaggery (if you are not diabetic).
3. Use fewer convenience, canned or processed foods:
Since the sodium content of these foods is high due to the addition of preservatives it will increase the dietary sodium intake e.g. macaroni, spaghetti, tinned corn, tinned fruits, tomato ketchup, packed masala powders,
commercial cheese, butter, etc.
4. Fast Foods:
These are often high in sodium. Chinese foods should also be avoided as it contains high quantities of Ajinomoto (Sodium glutamate). Salted foods like papad, pickle, chutneys, nuts like cashew nuts, pistachios, etc. should be avoided.
Medication should always be checked for sodium content before use. Be sure to read the label before you use any salt substitute as many salt substitutes replace sodium with potassium.
6. Non-vegetarian Foods:
Avoid organ meats like liver, brain, kidney, etc. and shellfish e.g. crab, lobster, etc.