It’s common knowledge that Americans consume too much sodium, largely from processed and fast foods. Some guidelines recommend that everyone should cut back, but is that necessary? While you certainly should ask for your doctor’s opinion, there are a few factors that you want to consider. Ask yourself if you have any demographics or conditions that have shown to benefit from salt restriction:
- Are you over the age of 65?
- Do you identify as black or African American?
- Do you have high blood pressure or prehypertension?
- Do you have diabetes or kidney disease?
- Do you have heart disease?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, watching your sodium intake is a good idea because these factors put you at greater risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and more. Research shows sodium intakes in the 1,500-2,300 milligrams per day range can have a positive impact on blood pressure, heart health and more. Lower dietary salt intake can help maintain lower blood pressure, prevent fluid retention, and keep healthy circulation throughout your organs. For reference, one teaspoon of table salt provides about a days worth (2,300 milligrams) of sodium.
The Importance of Potassium
But, it’s not all just about sodium. Remember, sodium is the primary electrolyte in our blood, while its counterpart, potassium, is the primary electrolyte in our cells. These two play a dynamic role in regulating fluid balance. If you’re in good health, moderate to high intakes of potassium (3,500-4,700 milligrams per day, mostly from fresh fruits and vegetables) and regular sweat-inducing exercise may offset some of sodium’s presence in the body, potentially offering wiggle-room on the 2,300 milligrams-per-day recommendation.
Bearing all of this in mind, we hope you feel more informed on where your sodium intake should be. At the least, these are all factors that you can bring to your doctor with greater understanding; he/she might be impressed!