Barbecue sauce, packet gravies and sauces are also offenders; almost all brands contain extremely high levels of sodium. Olives, capers, and anything pickled are on the bad list too, because pickling requires salty brine. It’s also important to realise that the salt content in condiments is often listed for small quantities, so those who eat ketchup on everything or like their pasta with lots of sauce could be eating double or triple the dose of the sodium listed. And that dehydrated onion soup mix used to make so many party dips? It’s one of the worst traps of all, with more than 3,000 mg of sodium in one packet!
Heart failure cases rise sharply days after Christmas time
Want to avoid a post-Christmas Day admittance to Hospital? Too much stress, overindulgence and activity can propel you from your warm living room into a Emergency Hospital admittance.
One study in the US found that hospital visits for heart failure went up by 33% in the four days following Christmas.
“The holidays are really stressful,” says Dr. Elsa Grace Giardina, cardiology professor at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia Medical Center. “People are going to work and worrying about shopping and wrapping their presents. Depression is common and has a linked to cardiac issues.
Well how do you stay out of hospital? Watch your salt intake, says Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital.
“don’t overindulge in the alcohol, if you have any symptoms at all, don’t delay getting medical help for fear of ruining the festivities.”
“Danger signs that should send you to the doctor include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, difficulty lying flat in bed, swelling of the legs, and chest pain. If you’re going to be outside, dress warmly and avoid activities that increase the demands on your heart, such as shoveling snow.
Try to avoid, or at least manage, stress. Easier said than done, of course, but try not to let it get to you” Giardina says.
“It’s important for people to sit back and say, ‘I am going to control stress, and I’m not going to let stress control me.”
Heart Failure and Identifying Salt Levels
As a Heart Failure patient it is very important to managing my salt intake, about 2g per day, if you are reading this then you will probably have an average intake of 6+mg. In fact 26 million Britains eat too much salt every day. Salt is a long term issue as the health issues are identified years after the consumption has taken place, it builds up in your system.
This may help you –
When you’re comparing the salt level of different food products, look at the nutritional information on the labels and make sure you’re comparing like with like. The easiest way is to check the figure for salt per 100g on both labels. Choose the one that is lower in salt – even if there is quite a small difference in salt content, choosing the lower one can help you cut down on salt, especially if it’s a food you eat a lot of.
If the label also tells you how much salt is in one serving or one slice, remember that the servings won’t always be the same size from brand to brand – and they may also not be the same amount you would eat.
Here is a quick way to tell if a food is high in salt by looking at the nutritional information on the label.
Look at the figure for salt per 100g.
High is more than 1.5g salt per 100g (or 0.6g sodium)
Low is 0.3g salt or less per 100g (or 0.1g sodium)
If the amount of salt per 100g is in between these figures, then that is a medium level of salt.
Foods produced by some supermarkets and manufacturers have ‘traffic light’ colours on the front of the pack, which show you if a food is high (red), medium (amber) or low (green) in fat, saturated fat, sugars and salt. For a healthier choice try to pick products with more greens and ambers and fewer reds.
Look at the nutritional information on the label. If the label gives a figure for salt per 100g, all you have to do is work out how much salt is in the amount you will eat. So if you’re eating 500g, you would multiply the figure for 100g by 5.
The label might also tell you how much salt (or sodium) is in the whole pack or in part of the pack. Remember that the serving size listed on the label may not be the same as the amount you will eat and it may be different from brand to brand.
If you only have a figure for sodium, work out how much sodium is in the amount you will eat. And then multiply this by 2.5 to find the amount of salt.
How can I work out how much salt I’m eating?
It would be very difficult to calculate exactly how much salt you eat in a day, because you would need to know the salt content of each food and measure the exact quantities you eat.
But if you find out the amount of salt in a few of the foods you normally eat, then you’ll see how easy it can be to eat more than 6g in one day. So if you eat a 200g ham sandwich that contains 1.6g salt per 100g, then that would be 3.2g salt, which is more than half of an adult’s daily maximum of 6g. Scary hey!
What’s the difference between sodium and salt?
Salt is also known as sodium chloride. So sodium is part of salt. Having too much sodium could increase your blood pressure.
Lots of food labels tell you how much salt is in 100g of the food. Sometimes they only give a figure for sodium, or they might give both.
Sodium x 2.5 = salt
If you know how much sodium is in a food, you can work out roughly the amount of salt it contains by multiplying the sodium by 2.5. So if a portion of food contains 1.2g sodium, then it contains about 3g salt.
Use this calculator to help you
Cut your salt intake
Ok will all like a bit of salt but too much salt can raise your blood pressure, and this can lead to heart failure or a worsening of the condition.
Suggested recommended limit: 2,000 milligrams per day (less than one teaspoon per day).
Limiting sodium is one of the most important things that people with heart failure can do.
Sodium makes the body hold on to fluid. To pump the added fluid, the heart has to work harder. People with heart failure shouldn’t put this extra strain on their hearts.
Excess fluid can also cause weight gain. Your heart has to work harder when you put on extra weight.
Too much sodium in the diet can worsen symptoms like swelling and shortness of breath. If those symptoms become severe, the person may need to be admitted to the hospital.
Sodium increases blood pressure. High blood pressure constricts the arterioles, making them resistant to blood flow. This makes the heart work progressively harder to pump enough blood to the body’s tissues and organs.
Cut down on table salt now!
Take the salt shaker off the table.
Discuss using salt substitutes with your doctor.
Limit salt in cooking
Avoid any seasonings that taste salty, including:
stock cubes (make your own stock it’s vastly superior)
cooking sherry or cooking wine
Try substituting salt-free seasonings with lemon juice, vinegar and herbs.
Drain and rinse canned foods before preparing them to remove some of the salt. Tuna can now be purchased in fresh water – avoid the brine.
If you can use fresh fruits and vegetables over canned or frozen versions with added salt.
Shop for canned or frozen foods with no salt added.
Avoid packaged foods such as soups or rice dishes that come with a packet of powdered seasoning.
Avoid all processed convenience foods
Most of us take in more sodium through packaged convenience foods and snacks than by using table salt.
Look for “low-salt” or “low-sodium” labels on cans and packages. This label means the food has 140 milligrams or less sodium per serving. “Very low sodium” means it has 35 mg or less per serving.
“Reduced-salt” or “reduced-sodium” simply means that the product has at least 25 percent less sodium than the original version of the same product.
These foods may still have more sodium than you’re allowed.
Canned soups and dry soup mixes
Canned meats and fish
Ham, bacon and sausage
Salted nuts and peanut butter
Instant cooked cereals
Salted butter and margarine
Processed meats, such as deli items and hot dogs
Prepared baking mixes (pancake, muffin, cornbread, etc.)
Prepackaged frozen dinners (look for options where one serving has less than 400 mg of sodium)
Snack foods (crisps, snacks, olives, pickles)
Pay attention to your serving sizes.
A 2.5-serving can of soup with 200 mg of sodium per serving actually gives you 500 mg of sodium if you eat the whole thing. That’s a real dent in your 2,000 mg-per-day allowance.
Watch for other forms of sodium.
Read the ingredients. Many foods contain more than one form of sodium, such as
monosodium glutamate or MSG
Know what’s in your medicines.
Some medicines are high in sodium, too – always read the sodium content and warnings before taking an over-the-counter medication. Don’t take headache or heartburn medicines that contain sodium carbonate or bicarbonate.
Also be very careful that if you use lo-salt products that are based on “potassium sulphate” this will effect your INR warfarin levels.