Most of us would not automatically decide to go on a low sodium diet. We would miss our weekly Big Mac with French fries, our large submarine sandwich from the local deli and our night out at the favorite restaurant in town. However, after mitral valve surgery three years ago, my doctor told me that such a diet would be necessary. One of the valves in my heart was replaced and after two weeks recuperating in the hospital, I arrived home two days before Christmas. A visiting nurse came to my home to help with my rehabilitation, teach me exercises and enlighten me as to sodium content in food. What a harsh awakening I encountered regarding salt intake.
I was never one to read the content of fat, sodium and vitamins on food labels when I went grocery shopping. Like so many other people, I simply chose my favorite items and placed them in my shopping cart. However, that has now changed. Sodium content is the first thing I look at when making food purchases. Look at the sodium content on the package and take note of the number of servings. For example, if the sodium content is 100 mg and the serving says “1”, you are receiving 100 milligrams of sodium for one serving.
Trying to stay between 1500 and 2000 milligrams of sodium per day, as my doctor suggested, was difficult at first. However, with helpful guidelines I was able to change my diet to a healthier one. When purchasing groceries, be sure to read the nutrition label on the product before placing it in your cart. Look on the label for foods that are low in sodium. Do not buy a product simply because it may read “low sodium” on the front of the product. Purchase fresh fruits and vegetables that taste better and are much lower in sodium than canned products. Do not add salt to your meal. Try different herbs such as garlic, parsley and rosemary. Mrs. Dash products are a wonderful addition to your daily meals in place of salt and even pepper. They come in a variety of flavors to add to fish, chicken and even homemade pizza.
Be sure to remember that fast food restaurants are extremely high in sodium. They may taste terrific, but over time, your heart will pay the price. Frozen dinners and pizza also fall into this category. At http://www.choosemyplate.gov you will be able to read about a variety of topics to help you eat better, to exercise and to help your family stay healthy. Call your primary care physician for the name of a good nutritionist to help you get started on the road to good and improved health. It will be the best decision you ever made.