HEART FAILURE: Say No To Excess Salt

With the festive season on, most of us throw caution to the winds and indulge in all kinds of delicacies both sweet and savoury. But before you reach out for that tempting deep-fried, salt-laden plate of fries, be forewarned: a study has found that high salt intake is associated with increased risk of hypertension and heart failure.

How does it happen?

Senior cardiologist Dr Santosh Kumar Dora says, “Heart failure is when heart is unable to pump enough blood as per the need of the body. Sodium retains water, so high sodium in the blood will retain water and increase the blood volume. This puts stress on the heart and may lead to heart failure.”

What are the recommended levels of salt intake?

In patients who already are suffering from heart failure or those who have low pumping efficiency, increased salt intake puts the heart at a great risk say cardiologists. Dr Dora says, “In these cases the recommended salt intake is less than two to three gms per day. In patients who suffer from hypertension, the recommended salt intake is less than five gms per day.”

Our body needs sodium

Sodium is a mineral that’s essential for life say doctors. It helps control our body’s fluid balance and also helps send nerve impulses and affects muscle function. Senior interventional cardiologist Dr Tilak Suvarna says, “While we do need some sodium in our diet to help regulate fluid in the body, the amount of salt we eat is far more than we require. It’s the excess of sodium that’s the problem in relation to blood pressure. When there’s extra sodium in our bloodstream, it attracts water into our blood vessels, increasing the total amount of blood flowing inside our blood vessels, leading to increase in the blood pressure. There is very convincing evidence which has shown that regularly eating too much salt puts us at increased risk of developing high blood pressure. High blood pressure is the main cause of strokes and a major cause of heart attacks and heart failures, the most common causes of death and illness in the world.”

Foods that contain high sodium levels

In this age of fast living, most of us have packaged and or pre-prepared foods. What most do not know that about 77 per cent of the sodium we consume comes from there. Dr Suvarna says, “Since most of the sodium we eat, is in our food before we buy it, many people unfortunately don’t realise they are eating too much salt. Thus it makes it hard for people to limit how much sodium they are eating.” Nutritionists say that all kinds of processed and prepared foods contain high levels of sodium. Most packaged foods are high in sodium as it is used like a preservative. Avoiding excess sauces and seasonings can help say doctors. Pickles are also very rich in salt content. Apart from this, there are many foods that are actually swimming in salt but are not as obvious. Here is a list…

Cottage cheese

Paneer or cottage cheese that is not homemade can have around 1,000 mg of sodium in one cup. And that is around 40 per cent of your entire day’s intake.


It is touted to be a good breakfast but some packaged cereals are said to have 180 to 300 mg of sodium per serving.

Baked foods

Foods that are baked rely on sugar and sodium as a preservative. Some baked foods are known to have around 200 mg sodium


Most canned or restaurant soups have around 1,000 to 1,500 mg of sodium per bowl.

Burgers and hot dogs

Even the vegetarian versions of these foods are loaded with salt. The patties alone have around 500 mg of salt.

Hot chocolate and pancakes

If you are not have the homemade versions of hot chocolate drinks and pancakes, you might end up having around 1,500-200 mg of sodium. Avoiding ready-made mixes of these foods is a great idea.

Packaged raw chicken

Opting for packets of organic chicken will help because, chicken breasts sometimes have high-sodium flavouring solution injected in them.

Comments are closed