Sodium

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:47 pm
Sodium is a mineral that regulates both the volume of fluid in your body and blood pressure. Too much sodium makes the body retain fluid. To pump the added fluid, the heart has to work harder. Too much fluid in our body also contributes to swelling, shortness of breath, and weight gain. There's sodium in almost all the foods you eat, either naturally or added in processing. Most of the sodium you eat comes from sodium chloride, common table salt, which is 40 percent sodium. Foods such as pickles, lunch meats, canned vegetables, soups, and frozen dinners are very high in sodium, as are some foods in which you can't taste the sodium, such as cheese, cold cereal, ice cream, and prepared puddings. Specific guidelines for declaring the sodium content of foods on labels have only been established since 1994. Doctors generally advise people diagnosed with high blood pressure to reduce their salt intake. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,400 mg of sodium a day. That equals less than one teaspoon of salt. For those with heart disease the recommendation is lower2,000 mg. a day. Contact a healthcare professional about whether or not you should restrict your salt intake.
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