Sodium in your diet

When you have heart disease, chances are doctors will advise that you watch your cholesterol. In addition to cholesterol, sodium may be a concern. Marcie Fraser has more.



Most of us love salt. Too much isn't good, but neither is too little.


"Sodium is not evil. Sodium is an important element in our system, it helps control how much water we hold on to. It is important to the way the nerves conduct. It is important how muscles work," said Dr. Andrij Baran, a cardiologist.

Sodium affects your blood pressure.


"If you eat salt, you're making your blood more salty, so the body is going to hold on to water to dilute it . If you put more water into the pipes, the pressure goes up, causing your volume of water in your system to increase and thereby pressure goes up and people get puffy ankles," said Dr. Baran.


The average American takes in approximately 3,300 milligrams of salt a day. The RDA recommends no more than 2300 milligrams per day for adult, but if you are elderly, have diabetes or kidney disease, it's lowered to 1500 milligrams per day. Some studies do suggest a high sodium diet may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.


"By raising your pressure, that in turn increases the risk of clogged arteries, because the pressure then damages the lining of the arteries and permitting cholesterol to get in and we have a domino effect,” said Dr. Baran.


You might know the symptoms of having too much sodium: hands are tight and you feel bloated. It may seem reasonable if you are bloated to drink more water to wash it out, but according to Dr. Baran, that's against his advice.


"Water won't flush it out, it may make it worse. In terms of drinking water, drink when you are thirsty, don't push past that and dilute your blood and you could get hyponatremia, which is worse," said Dr. Baran.


Instead of using salt in your cooking, you may also try using spices to cut out the sodium but not the flavor.

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