A low salt diet and a low sodium diet are often considered to be two names for the same thing. But, there is a definite and somewhat subtle distinction between the two. They cannot be used interchangeably, and it is therefore important to know which diet you really need to follow.
What Is Low Salt?
A low salt diet is a much more specific concept than a low sodium diet. A low salt diet refers only to a reduction in culinary table salt usage. Table salt, or sodium chloride, is the consummate food additive that can be added to nearly everything to give it more flavor. It is especially helpful in flavoring meats.
What Is Low Sodium?
A low sodium diet is eating foods that contain little to no sodium at all. Sodium is found in table salt, but it is also found in foods in other forms. One needs only to refer to food labels to see that although a food item may have no table salt added, it may still have an abundance of sodium. Sometimes the salty taste might be overpowered by other ingredients, so it makes it less noticeable at times. Also, there are microwaveable meals that may claim to be healthy, but often times the labels will reveal they are loaded with sodium and should be avoided.
Difference between Low Salt and Low Sodium
Whenever one refers to salt, they are also essentially referring to sodium. Therefore, one can always substitute a low salt diet with a low sodium diet.
A low sodium diet is important because of the drastic effect it can have on blood pressure. It's one of the most easily avoidable causes of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is linked to numerous adverse health implications such as heart disease. Lowering your blood pressure is the single best thing you can do for long-term health.
The reason why salt is mentioned so often is because it may be the largest addition of sodium people experience in their diet. From generously sprinkling salt on morning eggs to covering that mouth-watering dinner steak with salt, it is just too easy for people to overindulge while eating. Therefore, it remains the biggest target for reduction while on a low sodium diet.
Reducing Sodium from Your Diet
Another way to reduce sodium is to be more mindful of food labels. Choose foods that are naturally low in sodium or look for specially formulated versions that have taken special care to reduce salt as much as possible without sacrificing flavor.
Also, watch out for monosodium glutamate. This is considered a flavorful spice that, like table salt, is available in a stand alone version (often with the Accent label) or is mixed as a part of a packet of spices. It is high in sodium and should not be used in excess.
Remember, even though a food is labeled as being healthy, be sure and check the sodium content to make sure. By sticking to a low salt and low sodium diet, you will be on your way to leading a healthy lifestyle.