Eating a low-sodium diet is one of the most important lifestyle changes people with heart failure can make, but only one-third manage to reduce their sodium intake to recommended levels, said researchers at the American Heart Association's 10th Annual Scientific Forum on April 25, 2009.
The recommended daily intake of sodium for people with heart failure is 2,000 milligrams.
In this new study, 116 people with heart failure wrote down everything they ate for three days. The average daily intake of sodium among these people with heart failure was 2,671 milligrams, exceeding the sodium recommendation of 2,300 milligrams per day for healthy people.
These people with heart failure weren't intentionally ignoring doctor's recommendations, said the study co-author. Most thought they were taking steps to reduce their sodium intake by putting less table salt on their foods.
Table salt was the wrong focus given that about 70 per cent of the sodium in the typical North American diet is hidden in processed foods. (One multigrain, low-fat bagel has 580 milligrams of hidden sodium.)
Some of the highest-sodium foods eaten by the study participants were hot dogs, sausage and bacon, canned soups, salad dressings, condiments, fast food, lunch meat, bread, pizza, frozen entrees, grits and cornbread.
"The patients themselves were shocked to find out they were eating more than 2,000 mg of sodium a day," said the American heart researcher.
High intake of sodium is harmful to your heart because it increases blood volume by attracting and holding on to water. Increased blood volume makes your heart work harder increasing blood pressure. High blood pressure increased risk of heart failure and other heart diseases.
Would you like strategies on how to avoid foods with hidden sodium? Check out how you can work one-on-one with Leslie Beck, RD.
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