A sedentary lifestyle and easy access to convenience foods could result in the consumption of an excessive amount of salt. This could be detrimental to your health, particularly if you are predisposed to high blood pressure. Some low-calorie foods may appear healthy because they are low in fat, but these same foods may be high in sodium. Eat high-calorie and low-sodium foods if they are also low in saturated fats, trans fats, sugar and cholesterol. These foods must be incorporated into a healthy, daily meal plan.
If your blood pressure is consistently more than 120/80 mmHg you are at risk of high blood pressure; if your blood pressure is equal to or greater than 140/90 mmHg, you have high blood pressure. You are at a greater risk of heart disease and kidney disease if your blood pressure remains at such a high level. Eating high-calorie, low-sodium foods as part of a low-sodium diet is effective at lowering your blood pressure whether you have normal, borderline or high blood pressure. If you are on blood pressure medication, a low-sodium diet enhances the effectiveness of your meds, according to a 2007 article by Shelby Scott, M.D., published in the “ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal.”
Daily Sodium Intake
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that healthy adults consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day; if you are African American, 40-years-old or older and if you have high blood pressure, you should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day. Maintain a food log to plan your meals, including the number of calories and the milligrams of sodium.
Nuts and Nut Butters
Unsalted, natural nuts are very high in calories and have no sodium. One-quarter cup of nuts has between 180 and 200 calories. Nuts are loaded with monounsaturated fats, especially almonds. Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fats. These fats help reduce your bad cholesterol and raise your good cholesterol, according to a 2007 article by registered dietitian Janet Brill, Ph.D., published in “ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal.” Natural nut butters made only with the nut and a small amount of salt have about 105 calories and 52 mg of sodium per tablespoon.
Fresh Meats and Fish
Lean cuts of meat and fatty fish average more calories than chicken breast. A 3-oz. serving of beef tenderloin has 175 calories and only 54 mg of sodium. A 3-oz. serving of salmon also has 175 calories and 52 mg of sodium. Use salt-free seasonings to flavor your protein. Cook meat and fish using olive oil on the grill or pan-sear them on the stove top. Olive oil is also rich in heart-healthy, cholesterol-lowering fats while salmon is packed with omega-3 fats.
One cup of cooked brown rice or whole wheat pasta has just more than 200 calories. One cup of medium grain brown rice has 20 mg of sodium and 1 cup of whole wheat pasta has about 1 g of sodium. Do not add salt to the water you are cooking your grains in. A medium baked potato has 145 calories and 8 mg of sodium.
- “ACSM’s Resource Manual for Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription; American College of Sports Medicine; 2010
- “ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal;” Essential Hypertension: Lifestyle Intervention Treatments; Shelby Scott, M.D.; July/August 2007
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Most Americans Should Consume Less Sodium
- “ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal”; Eat Like You’re in Crete: Teach Your Clients the Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet; Janet Bond Brill, Ph.D., R.D.; September/October 2007
- “The NutriBase Complete Book of Food Counts”; NutriBase; 2001