EMILY LISCIANDRO: If you've been diagnosed
with congestive heart failure, your doctor has asked you to follow a very low sodium
diet of less than 2000 milligrams per day. So what is sodium? Sodium is a mineral that
is found in all foods, and is necessary for good health. But most people get too much
sodium from the foods they eat. Sodium is a component of salt. So, to limit your sodium
intake, you need to limit your salt intake. You may ask, "Why do I need to watch my sodium
intake?" Well, sodium in the body attracts fluid. If you're eating too much sodium, you
may have fluid buildup. If your body has extra fluid, your heart and kidneys will need to
work harder to rid the body of the fluid, which may cause a rise in your blood pressure.
High blood pressure can lead to serious problems, such as stroke or heart attack. By following
a low-sodium diet, you should have less fluid retention and swelling and you can help control
your blood pressure too.

When on a low-sodium diet, you should limit your sodium intake
to about 2000 milligrams, or 2 grams, per day. This may seem extremely low, but keep
in mind that the American Heart Association now recommends that adults 51 years and older,
all African Americans and anyone with high blood pressure limit their daily sodium intake
to no more than 1500 milligrams. For a daily goal of 2000 milligrams of sodium, you could
divide your sodium intake throughout the day. That gives you about 600 milligrams per meal
with room for one 200 milligram sodium snack. Now let's talk about sources of sodium. Table
salt is the primary source of sodium in our diets. Even a small amount has a lot. In fact,
just one teaspoon of salt has 2300 milligrams of sodium, which is more than should be your
daily limit for sodium intake. Even if you don't add salt to your food, you could still
be eating foods with high sodium content. For example, commercially prepared foods have
large amounts of sodium.

This includes easy to prepare box mixes; frozen dinners; preserved
meats, such as lunch meats, hotdogs or smoked meats; canned foods, such as soups, vegetables,
pork and beans or tomato products; condiments and ready-to-eat foods, such as cereals, breads
and baked goods. In general, the more processed the food, the more sodium it will contain.
This might seem a bit overwhelming, but the first step is easy. It's learning how to read
a food label. Food labels provide a lot of helpful information about food and can help
you make healthier choices and reduce your sodium intake. To begin, look at the serving
size listed at the top. All the nutrition information listed on the food label is for
one serving. Therefore, if you eat two servings of a food, you need to double what you see
on the label.

Next, look for sodium content. The amount of sodium in one serving of food
is listed as milligrams, or mg. Remember, reduced sodium products still contain sodium,
so it is still important to read the food label. Foods that contain 140 milligrams of
sodium or less per serving are considered to be low-sodium. And then, foods that contain
35 milligrams of sodium or less per serving are considered to be very low-sodium. You
should choose these foods most often. The next step is shopping for a very low-sodium
diet. In general, the outside perimeter of the grocery store will have foods that are
less processed. So start there! Here are some tips on what to buy. When buying vegetables,
choose fresh or frozen over canned. Always choose plain varieties, or ones without the
added sauces. If you do need the canned version, though, be sure to choose the no added salt

Limit baked goods, which are processed. Also, choose fresh chicken, fish or lean meats
instead of processed types, such as lunch meats, hotdogs or smoked meats. Buy limited,
non- or low-fat dairy products; select unsalted versions of your favorite snacks and unsalted
or low-sodium soups. Cooking food often presents an opportunity to add salt when following
a recipe. However, an important way to reduce sodium intake is to not add salt during the
cooking process. It is also important to not add salt at the table. Learning to cook with
herbs and spices is a fun and tasty way to practice a very low-sodium diet everyday.
Season foods with salt-free seasonings such as herbs, spices, garlic, onion, peppers or
lemon juice to add flavor.

Be sure to use garlic or onion powder versus the salted versions.
Be careful when using salt substitutes too, as many are high in potassium content, which
can cause medical problems in some people. There are excellent choices for a salt-free
seasoning blend that can be used for flavor that have very low potassium content — just
be sure to check the label. So are you ready? Here are some ideas to get you started. For
beef, chicken, pork or fish, try adding flavor with mushrooms, green pepper, onion, parsley,
thyme, sage, dill, garlic or bay leaf. For eggs, try seasoning with pepper, green pepper,
onions or tomatoes. You can make your vegetables pop with chives, lemon juice, garlic, onion
powder, rosemary or parsley. Now that we have discussed what sodium is, why it's important
to limit its use and ways to change your eating lifestyle to accomplish following a low-sodium
diet, it's time for you to get practicing. Thank you for watching — we hope it's been
helpful. Goodluck!.



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