Limiting your salt additions may help your vascular system, especially if you have diabetes.

Lower sodium for a healthier heart

Salt Shaker

How do you take your food? With salt or without?

A new study out of Japan reaffirms that limiting sodium intake (and sodium is part of salt) can be beneficial to the vascular system,  especially for those people who have diabetes.

Diabetes is a chronic disease that needs to be well-managed to have a minimal impact  of the heart and vascular system. This eight-year Japanese study followed 1,588 adults between the ages of 40 and 70 years of age.

And the results? Those with the highest daily intake of sodium (5,900 mg or more than 2½ teaspoons of salt) had the highest risk for cardiovascular disease. Those with the lowest intake (less than 2,888 mg of sodium) had the lowest cardiovascular disease risk.  

Where does sodium lurk, besides in your salt shaker?

  • Process meats such as luncheon meats, hot dogs, bacon and sausage        Canned soups and stews       
  • Frozen meals and frozen pizza        
  • Convenience foods such as jars of spaghetti sauce, seasoned rice mixes, instant oatmeal        
  • Salty snack foods such as chips, pretzels and snack crackers  

You can easily check the Nutrition Facts label on the food package to see how much sodium it contains per one serving.  Select foods with less than 140 mg of sodium.  

It can be challenging to reduce sodium intake if you do not make some dishes at home from scratch. The closer the food is  to its original form, the less sodium it will have. So fresh green beans have 0 mg sodium but a serving of canned green beans contains 300 mg sodium. Plain rice cooked with your own added herbs and seasoning will have 0 mg sodium but a pre-seasoned  boxed rice mix contains 800 mg sodium per ½ cup serving.  

Make dishes from scratch if you can to save loads of sodium. This seems to be especially important if you have diabetes - it may just keep you from developing cardiovascular disease!



About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years, and currently works at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.