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The Truth About a High Sodium Diet and Your Heart Health

: The Truth About a High Sodium Diet and Your Heart Health

Keeping your heart healthy is essential for your health and wellness, and it all starts with your diet. Eating a balanced diet full of healthy and whole foods is crucial, but so is watching how much salt you consume.

Many prepackaged foods are loaded with sodium, which provides flavor and stability. Eating too many processed food products raises your sodium intake and may damage your heart.

If you're already at risk for heart problems, you need to watch your sodium intake, as it may increase your blood pressure, among other complications.

Our team at the Vein, Heart, and Vascular Institute specializes in heart health. Cardiologists Dr. Hesham Fakhri and Dr. Octavio Cosme explain how much sodium you should consume daily, and they provide customized treatments for heart problems like arrhythmias and heart disease.

What is sodium?

Sodium is a natural element in some foods. But most often, it's a processed form of salt that contains sodium and chloride. Table salt is what you put on your food to give it a little more flavor.

The human body requires sodium for various functions, including muscle and nerve health. But too much sodium is a recipe for disaster, leading to high blood pressure and other heart problems.

Most of the sodium you consume comes from processed, packaged foods. It gives them a longer shelf life and provides flavor and stability. Only about 15% of the sodium in your diet comes naturally in whole foods.

Sodium and your heart

Although adding a little salt to your mashed potatoes doesn't seem like a big deal, it's detrimental over time, especially when you already consume a lot of sodium.

A high-sodium diet full of processed foods affects your heart and health. Too much sodium causes water retention, increasing the volume of blood in your vessels.

More blood flowing through the vessels requires more force, resulting in increased blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure has detrimental effects on the blood vessels and heart.

Heart attack, stroke, and heart failure are three significant issues related to high blood pressure. Cutting back on sodium intake reduces your risk for health issues related to high blood pressure and for problems with your heart.

How much sodium can I have?

The federal recommendation for sodium intake is no more than 2,300 milligrams daily. Unfortunately, most Americans consume more than 3,400 milligrams a day.

It doesn’t take much sodium to reach the daily limit. One teaspoon of regular table salt is roughly 2,300 milligrams. Reduce your salt intake by eating more whole foods and reading the labels on prepackaged foods.

To eliminate excess sodium intake don’t add table salt to your food. Avoid such foods as deli meats, bacon, cheese, and pickles, as they're all high in sodium.

If you consume less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily, you could reduce your risk of high blood pressure by more than 25%.

You may need to limit sodium in your diet if you have heart disease or high blood pressure, or if you previously had a stroke. Dr. Fakhri and Dr. Cosme carefully evaluate your specific needs to give you their recommendation on dietary salt intake.

To learn more about sodium and your heart, call us at the Vein, Heart, and Vascular Institute today at one of our Florida offices — Tampa, Wesley Chapel, or Sun City Center — or request a consultation using our online booking tool.

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