Reducing sodium levels in meals and snacks is a desirable goal for many people, particularly those with certain medical conditions. The meals we eat are often loaded with many times more sodium than a human body needs in an entire day. Low-sodium programs are not for everyone. People seeking to lose weight may become healthier from low-sodium diets, but these are not in themselves helpful for weight loss and may even be dangerous for some, especially those with low blood pressure.
Pro: Lowering Blood Pressure
Excess sodium in the body is a prime contributor to high blood pressure and problems with the heart, kidneys or liver. Sharply cutting one’s sodium intake can yield significant improvement in these conditions.
Con: Foods Hard to Find
It can be difficult to find truly low-sodium foods in stores, especially prepackaged ones. It’s always possible to control sodium content by preparing more dishes from scratch instead of buying heat-and-eat meals, but this is time-consuming. Restaurants offer very few low-salt dishes.
Pro: Fluid Retention Reduced
The presence of excess salt in the body can cause too much fluid to be retained. Liquid can collect in the lungs or stomach and can cause the appearance of swelling in the hands and ankles. Cutting sodium intake can mitigate fluid retention.
Con: Poor Flavor
For many people starting on a low-sodium diet, the sudden absence of seasoning can make many foods seem terribly bland. Over time, tastes can be modified and the subtler flavors of low-sodium foods may be better appreciated. Substitute salt-free seasonings may also prove effective.
Pro: Low-Sodium Literature Abounds
There are a multitude of low-sodium diet ideas on the Internet and in the consumer medical literature. Many recipes call for fresh foods, which are healthier in general than prepackaged ones.
Con: Side Effects
An overly severe low-sodium diet entered into without a doctor’s advice can cause side effects. These may include cramps, aches, weakness, nausea or dementia, and can even lead to anorexia.