Low-Sodium and Low-Cholesterol Meal Planning for Home
Sodium and Cholesterol
If you are interested in low-sodium and low-cholesterol meal planning for home, you are most likely concerned about heart health. Both sodium and cholesterol have important roles in the body but too much of either can lead to serious health problems. Eating a diet high in salt can increase blood pressure which can significantly increase ones risk of heart disease and stroke. Excess cholesterol can build up in the walls of arteries and lead to a heart attack. In the United States, heart disease is the number one killer of men and women.
No more than 2300 mg of sodium should be consumed in one day. However, some people like those with high blood pressure should keep their intake below 1500 mg. The following can help when planning low-sodium meals at home:
The majority of salt in a person’s diet comes from processed foods and not from the salt shaker. It is important to read all food labels closely. Don’t just go by “claims” on the front of the box. Look at the nutrition facts and make note of the serving size per amount. Processed foods containing sodium include frozen meals, soups, packaged deli meats, sauces, canned vegetables, vegetable juices, ready-to-eat cereals, nuts, chips, crackers and even condiments like soy sauce, ketchup and relish.
Although the salt shaker is not considered the “big culprit” of sodium intake, you still want to be careful with how much salt you add to foods. Replace salt with sodium-free spices and herbs such as Mrs. Dash, allspice, garlic powder, fresh ground black pepper, oregano, dill, chives, fennel, ginger, herb vinegars and lemon juice.
Be aware of foods that naturally contain sodium such as shellfish, meat, milk and some vegetables like celery. The amount of sodium may not be high but it can add up. When planning your meals, research the sodium content in each food you wish to serve.
Daily cholesterol intake should be less than 300 mg a day. Individuals with heart disease should keep it under 200 mg. It is important to note that cholesterol is not the only culprit that raises “bad” cholesterol levels in the blood. Numerous studies show saturated fats can also greatly affect cholesterol levels. Therefore, when planning low-cholesterol meals at home, read all food labels closely for the amount of cholesterol as well as saturated fats.
Cholesterol comes from animals. Foods high in cholesterol include organ meats, eggs, whole milk and certain shellfish. Substitute low-fat milk for whole milk. Eat lean meats and occasionally replace animal protein with soy protein. Instead of buying bacon made from pigs, buy vegetarian bacon containing soy. Eat more plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Many of these foods are high in fiber which can help reduce “bad” cholesterol. Although eggs are high in cholesterol, you should not avoid them if your diet allows it. They are an excellent source of protein and contain other important nutrients like omega 3. Omega 3 is a healthy fat that has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Low-sodium and low-cholesterol meal planning for home may seem a bit overwhelming at first but it will get easier. Read labels closely, research foods that do not provide labels, keep records of how much sodium and cholesterol you consume in one day and make note of the dishes you have prepared for future meals.
WebMD: Too Much Salt Hurting Majority of Americans - https://www.webmd.com/heart/news/20090326/too-much-salt-hurting-two-thirds-of-americans
WebMD: Salt Shockers Slideshow: High-Sodium Surprises - https://www.webmd.com/diet/slideshow-salt-shockers
National Cholesterol Education Program: High Blood Cholesterol: What You Need To Know - https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/chol/wyntk.htm
WebMD: High Cholesterol: Heart-Healthy Diet - https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/guide/heart-healthy-diet
Photo by The Holistic Kitchen LLC (CC/Flickr)