Low-Sodium Diet Key To Heart Disease Prevention

Lifestyle change not just for those with risk factors

DAYTON, Ohio (January 15, 2019) – A low-sodium diet is key to heart disease prevention, but the advice – long hailed by cardiovascular experts – is not just for those who have certain risk factors.

“We always advise our patients to consider a low-sodium diet even if they currently have no risk factors for heart disease,” said Muhanad Al-Zubaidi, MD, a cardiologist with Premier Cardiovascular Institute. “The reason is because a high-sodium diet over the long-term can lead to hypertension, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.”

About one-third of the American population has high blood pressure, many of whom aren’t even aware of it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Diets low in sodium are key to preventing the development of high blood pressure and also helping those who need to manage it. 

“A low-sodium diet is even more powerful than that,” said Dr. Al-Zubaidi, who practices with Premier Physician Network. “This type of diet coupled with good exercise can actually reverse hypertension in many people.”

Many individuals don’t know when they have hypertension, but Dr. Al-Zubaidi said there are tell-tale signs that their body may be consuming too much salt. Swelling in the legs, shortness of breath and an overall feeling of fatigue or discomfort can all be signs that a person is eating too much salt. An elevated blood pressure reading is usually what confirms it, he said.

“Keep in mind that not everyone is going to feel or see symptoms,” he said. “They may be eating a lot of salt and have high blood pressure, but never know about it. This is why it’s very important to have your blood pressure checked on a regular basis.”

Understanding the importance of a low-sodium diet is important, but knowing how to implement it is vital. Dr. Al-Zubaidi said the following tips can help someone reduce their sodium intake:

Focus on the right foods – Fresh vegetables and grains are the best starting point. These types of foods have less sodium than red meat or even canned vegetables. Instead of seasoning with salt, consider using garlic powder for extra flavor.

Focus on the right number – Eat less than two grams – or 2,000 milligrams – of salt per day to lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. Look at the nutritional facts on food labels and try to make sure the amount of sodium will stay within this daily limit.

Focus on the right timeframe – According to the research released by the American Heart Association (AHA), it takes up to four weeks for a low-sodium diet to show positive benefits in a person’s blood pressure. Therefore, don’t expect blood pressure readings to change after just a couple of low-sodium meals. Stay consistent with your lifestyle change and also be faithful to take blood pressure readings on a regular basis.

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