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Sodium/Water Intake

Many processed foods contain large amounts of salt (sodium). Instead of processed foods, choose fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products. It is also a good idea to get rid of the salt shaker, and use other seasonings instead. Check with your doctor before using salt alternatives since many contain large amounts of potassium which your body may have a hard time getting rid of.

If you are used to eating salty foods, it make take a while for your taste buds to adjust to the absence of salt. During this time it is important to be sure you are consuming adequate calories and nutrients. Spices and herbs can help keep your meals exciting. Learn to cook with spices such as allspice, dill, lemon, pepper, rosemary, onion, garlic, etc.

High Salt Foods
  • Table salt (1 tsp = ~2.4g sodium)
  • Cheese
  • Packaged cereals
  • Salted snack foods (such as potato chips, crackers, tortilla chips, salted pretzels, salted nuts)
  • Condiments (such as soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce)
  • Canned soup and dry soup packets (unless made without salt)
  • Canned vegetables and meats
  • Cured or smoked meats
  • Pickled foods
USRDA of Sodium

The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) of sodium is 2,400 milligrams per day. Your doctor may recommend that you consume closer to 2,000 milligrams per day. Remember that this includes table salt as well as salt that is already in foods.

Remember to always check food labels for high salt contents and use fresh fruits in place of canned or processed foods. Be wary of fat-free and light salad dressings and spreads since extra salt is often added to make up for flavors found in fats.

The Facts of the Matter…

Patients with heart failure have to be particularly concerned with water retention. Sodium draws fluid from your body into the blood, increasing the blood volume that your heart must deal with. This places strain on your heart that is particularly dangerous in patients of heart failure. This is one reason that it is important for you to maintain a weight chart. The amount of water your body may be retaining can cause your weight to sway by large increments, placing a larger workload on your heart and circulatory system.

We would like to thank Margaret Wing-Peterson, MSN, RD for contributing to this portion of the website.

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