The Dangers of a High-Sodium Diet and Health
Sodium is an essential nutrient for maintaining health, but too much of it can lead to serious health issues. A high-sodium diet is defined as consuming more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day―the maximum recommended daily amount. Eating food high in sodium can have detrimental effects on overall health, including raising blood pressure, increasing your risk of heart disease, and increasing water weight.
One of the most concerning dangers of a high-sodium diet is hypertension (or high blood pressure). A high-sodium diet causes fluid retention, which results in an increase in your overall blood volume. This increase in blood volume causes an increase in blood pressure and can strain your cardiovascular system. If left unmanaged, hypertension can lead to heart disease and other illnesses such as kidney disease and stroke.
Risk of Heart Disease
High levels of sodium can also increase your risk for heart disease in multiple ways. Sodium can cause your body to retain fluids, which in turn can cause an increase in your blood pressure. High blood pressure can strain your heart and artery walls over time, causing irreversible damage. Additionally, salt can damage the artery walls, leading to a build-up of fatty plaques, called atherosclerosis. It is best to consult your doctor to determine if you should reduce the amount of sodium in your diet.
Water Weight Gain
In addition to hypertension and heart disease, eating a lot of salty food can also cause you to gain water weight. This type of weight gain is temporary and can be caused by consuming too much salt, which triggers your body to retain water. Although generally not serious, water weight can lead to bloating and a feeling of discomfort.
To reduce the dangers of a high-sodium diet, you should try to reduce the amount of salt in your diet. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day for an adult. You should also replace processed foods with fresh food options such as fruits and vegetables. These foods are naturally lower in sodium and can help reduce your risk of hypertension, heart disease, and water weight gain.