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Low-sodium Diets

Why limit sodium intake?
One of the easiest ways to cut down on sodium is to step away from the salt shaker.
One of the easiest ways to cut down on sodium is to step away from the salt shaker.
Alice Edward/Iconica/Getty Images

Healthy people should try not to consume an excessive amount of sodium to avoid placing undue stress on the heart and to maintain a lower blood pressure. A low-sodium diet lowers blood pressure in most people. People taking diuretics (water pills) should maintain a diet low in sodium to help the diuretic work better.

Other conditions that may improve with a low-sodium diet include asthma, Meniere's disease (a disorder of the inner ear), migraine headaches, kidney stones, gastritis, ulcers and bone loss in postmenopausal women.

Your body's daily requirement for sodium is only about a half gram, and the American Heart Association recommends a daily consumption of no more than 2.3 grams a day (about a teaspoon of table salt). It further recommends that if you have heart failure, you should reduce your sodium to 2 grams per day. However, the average daily consumption of sodium in American is at least 9 grams.

It's relatively easy to reduce the amount of sodium in the typical American diet. Making changes such as eliminating the addition of extra salt in cooking and at the table, and eating fewer processed foods and more fresh fruits and vegetables, will result in a substantial reduction in sodium in your diet. Our tastes change in response to our diets; if you lower the amount of salt in your diet, especially if you do so gradually, your taste for salt will decline after awhile. You will also probably notice other flavors that you weren't as aware of when your food was saltier.