a woman dances in a salad while a giant hand sprinkles salt on her

Safely Adding Salt to Your Diet

There are many love-hate relationships we have with various items, but one of the biggest ones with heart failure patients is salt. That tiny little grain containing only two elements that makes almost everything we eat taste more delicious, but can also severely hurt or even kill us. All we hear from day one is to limit salt or don’t add salt to any meals. It is arguably more important to track than calories in meals eaten. However, many people take limiting salt further than necessary. This isn’t a bad thing, but there are ways we can incorporate more salt into our diet and still be safe.

Know your daily maximum

First, before you can do anything, you must ask your doctor for your personal daily salt intake maximum. Most people will say between 1.5 and 2 grams, but we are all different, so ask your doctor. Once you have this number, you will need to track your daily weight and blood pressure to know how this amount of salt affects you. If there is no effect on your blood pressure or fluid retention, you should be ok. We all need salt in our diets as it is essential to many functions in the body. While you want to be careful, you don’t want to totally avoid it.

Adding salt throughout the day

Once you find an amount of salt that works for you, divide it up in each of your meals. If you are allowed and can tolerate 2 grams of salt every day, that is almost 700 mg of salt each meal provided you don’t have any snacks. Even if you cut it short each meal to 500 mg, that is still a lot of salt. If you generally eat healthy foods like lean meats and veggies, this can leave you a lot of room to sprinkle a little salt on your meal to add some flavor. For some people, including myself, sprinkling some salt on veggies makes them so much more satisfying, and in turn, makes me feel full and turns off my desire to snack as much.

Increasing salt after physical activity

You also may want to ask your doctor about increasing salt after physical activity. When given your daily limit, ask about adding an extra hundred or so milligrams of salt to your post-workout meal to replenish what you lose in sweat. It is very possible they will say your daily limit will include that amount. If so, ask if you should increase salt post-workout and decrease a little from other meals. Basically, ask about the ideal times to consume salt so it benefits you as much as possible.

Ask your doctor

Of course, I am not advocating or suggesting to go crazy and harm yourself. I am simply suggesting something that works for me and recommend you ask your doctor about it. You can’t and don’t want to avoid salt unless you are extremely sensitive to small intakes, in which you need to do what your doctor recommends and works for your body. I believe is you are proactive in tracking your salt intake with a set limit given by your doctor and tested to make sure you can tolerate it, you can still add this to your diet and be safe.

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