5 Nursing Tips to Reduce Sodium Intake

NursingFebruary 24, 2014

An important part of a nurse's role is educating patients on the risk of heart disease that can occur as a result of high blood pressure. There are some simple nursing tips to reduce sodium intake are powerful ways to keep sodium intake below 2,300 milligrams (or 1,500 milligrams if at risk for high blood pressure).

At the same time, nurses need to show patients that reducing sodium is a realistic goal that they can personally accomplish. This requires the nurse to not only have the knowledge, but also an understanding of how to motivate people. Learning how to integrate these traits is an important part of nursing education.

Choose Fresh Rather than Highly Processed Food

Processed, pre-packaged foods have huge amounts of added salt to increase flavor and prevent spoilage, so choosing fresh veggies, meat and sauces instead of canned, boxed or powdered foods can greatly reduce your sodium intake.

Increase Your Potassium Intake

Potassium convinces the kidneys to excrete excess sodium from the body and signals blood vessels to relax, reducing high blood pressure. Eating potassium rich foods, like fruit, (bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, raisins) yogurt, spinach and sweet potatoes is a great idea. In addition, potassium is essential for normal body function, so unless you have specific health problems, make sure you get enough by eating these foods.

Read the Label

Not all processed foods are the same. There are many foods that you can simply swap out for lower sodium versions with no loss of flavor. Keep your intake under 2,300 milligrams a day. This can be difficult if you choose a can of chili that contains 1,000 mg per serving, so choose a lower sodium version or make your own at home.

Beware the "Salty Six"

The American Heart Association has called out six different foods with exceptionally high sodium content: pizza, cold cuts, poultry, soup, bread and sandwiches. If low-sodium options aren't selected, these items can be shockingly high in sodium. Try to find healthy alternatives or avoid them altogether.

Use Spices to Add Flavor

Cilantro, oregano, scallions, garlic, onion, fresh cracked pepper and other spices can add flavor to food without increasing sodium intake. A tiny sprinkle of salt is all you need to add flavor!

The use of salt for its preservative quality and flavor enhancement is out of control, and it affects our kidney's ability to excrete fluid from our body. The excess fluid retention caused by a diet high in salt causes high blood pressure. Eventually, it can lead to a heart attack or a stroke. Lowering your sodium consumption doesn't have to be difficult if these simple nursing tips are made a part of your routine — even if one step at a time.

Photo Credit: morgueFile