Pros & Cons of Low-Sodium Diets

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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 the human body needs during the course of a day. Nevertheless, low-sodium programs are not for everyone. People seeking to lose weight may become healthier by following low-sodium diets, but these are not in and of 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 and 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 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. Substituting 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, which may include cramps, aches, weakness, nausea or dementia, and can even lead to anorexia.

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