If you have high blood pressure, lowering your dietary sodium intake is one of the best places to start.
Lowering dietary sodium intake is part of a suite of lifestyle modifications directed as a first line of defense against high blood pressure and is recommended by pretty much every major health institution: the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association, the National Kidney Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization…you get the idea.
So we’ve crunched the numbers for you, analyzing roughly 600 foods from the USDA Food Nutrition Database.
We broke down the numbers by two metrics.
Comparing the amount of sodium in your foods on a calorie-by-calorie basis lets you see which foods are more dense in sodium when considering your dietary needs.
The sodium-to-potassium ratio is another number that is interesting for those with high blood pressure. It turns out that potassium has the opposite effect on blood pressure. That is, it helps lower your blood pressure.
So a low sodium-to-potassium ratio means your food has a more heart-healthy profile!
The lowest sodium foods, on average, are nuts, followed closely by fruits. Vegetables are next, followed by bread, fast food items, and lastly, cheeses.
However, it is also interesting to notice the average sodium-to-potassium ratio among these food categories. By far, the worst offender is the fast food category. Furthermore, vegetables drop significantly close to zero once potassium concentrations are taken into effect.
This jives with advice from the major health institutions citing research that suggests 70% of our sodium consumption comes from packaged foods and restaurants.
But enough with the categories. Here are your lists for the top 10 low sodium foods for each of the 5 food categories!
For those of you who want to dig deeper, here you go! Visit our interactive chart to play with all you’d like!
Here’s the thing.
If you go with any nuts, fruits, vegetables, beans, or whole grains, you can’t go wrong!
It’s when you start dipping into restaurants and processed foods that your sodium intake tends to increase. And to make matters worse, there are no food labels on restaurants meals so you have no idea how much you’re actually eating!
Intake is funded by the National Institutes of Health to work on ways to make it easier for you to track your sodium intake to improve your health!