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Sodium and Stroke

by | Jan 25, 2024

High sodium levels impact blood pressure and increase susceptibility to strokes. Explore practical strategies for reducing sodium in your diet for stroke management and prevention. Empower yourself with knowledge to make informed choices for a brain-healthy lifestyle and lower the risk of stroke.
woman eating soup

Introduction to Sodium Intake and Stroke Risk

 

Excess sodium intake is among the leading risk factors for stroke. The two main types of strokes are ischemic, brought about by a blood clot blocking an artery, and hemorrhagic, due to a burst blood vessel. Some common stroke causes include hypertension, also known as high or raised blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

Consuming too much salt is directly linked to high blood pressure, a primary risk factor for both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes. How? Sodium makes the body retain more fluid, which increases the heart’s workload as it pumps blood through narrower vessels—this raises blood pressure levels and the risk of strokes.

Sodium Basics

 

Sodium is an essential element in the human body that helps maintain water balance in the blood and cells. It forms ionic compounds with chlorine called sodium chloride, commonly known as table salt. Sodium chloride helps regulate the water level in the body and is needed for nerve and muscle function. Although too much sodium intake raises blood pressure, too little of it can cause hyponatremia or low sodium levels in the blood.

The latter can lead to cells and muscles not functioning properly because of abnormal fluid levels. Most packaged and processed foods like bread, canned soups, frozen meals, and takeout are very high in sodium due to preservatives and flavor enhancers added during manufacturing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and The American Heart Association (AHA) recommend consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium daily.

Unfortunately, most people exceed this by over 1,000 mg by consuming foods with added salt without realizing how much sodium table, sea, and kosher salts contain. For example, table salt is 40% sodium by weight, so a single teaspoon exceeds the daily value. Sea salt and kosher salt also pack significant sodium, despite mineral variations from table salt.

Reasons to Reduce Sodium Intake

 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), adults’ average global sodium intake is over 4,300 mg per day—more than double the CDC, AHA, and WHO recommended limit of less than 2,300 mg. The primary health risk associated with high sodium diets is increased blood pressure over time. Sustained high blood pressure significantly raises the risk of serious cardiovascular issues.

It also contributes to the development of other chronic conditions like gastric cancer, obesity, osteoporosis, Meniere’s disease, and kidney disease. Lowering sodium intake through dietary changes has been identified as one of the most cost-effective strategies for substantially decreasing hypertension cases. It will also prevent millions of premature deaths each year from sodium-sensitive illnesses.

How to Reduce Sodium

 

Major sodium sources include bread, cold cuts, pizza, pasta sauce, soup, and Asian foods like soy sauce. Processed snacks like chips and pretzels are also very high in hidden sodium. When dining out, ask that sauces and dressings be served on the side so you can control the amounts. Check nutrition info online before going to restaurants.

In supermarkets, opt for fresh chicken, fish, eggs, and fresh or frozen vegetables, which are naturally low in sodium. If you cook at home, avoid adding salt during cooking; instead, use herbs, spices, citrus, and vinegar for flavor.

Look for no-salt-added and low-sodium versions of condiments and sauces. Salt substitutes exist that blend various herbs for flavor minus the sodium. Get into the habit of rinsing canned foods like beans before cooking to remove excess sodium, and drinking plenty of water to support sodium excretion and blood pressure regulation.

Salt Alternatives

 

Please consult with a healthcare professional or a nutritionist who can provide personalized advice based on your specific health needs as this is a general guide. Here are some salt alternatives that you can use to add flavor to your food while cutting down on sodium:

Herbs and Spices:

Use a variety of herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of your dishes without relying on salt. Options include basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, cumin, coriander, and many more.

Citrus Juices:

Squeeze fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice onto your meals to add a burst of flavor. Citrus juices can provide a tangy and refreshing taste.

Vinegars:

Balsamic, apple cider, red wine, and other vinegars can add acidity and depth to your dishes. Be mindful of portion sizes, as some vinegars can be intense.

Garlic and Onion:

Incorporate fresh or roasted garlic and onion into your recipes for savory and aromatic flavors.

Mustard:

Mustard is a flavorful condiment that can add a zing to sandwiches, dressings, and marinades. Choose varieties with low or no added salt.

Low-Sodium Soy Sauce or Tamari:

Opt for low-sodium soy sauce or tamari as a substitute for regular soy sauce in Asian-inspired dishes.

Seeds and Nuts:

Toasted sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and chopped nuts can provide texture and a nutty flavor to salads and other dishes.

Homemade Spice Blends:

Create your own spice blends without added salt. Experiment with combinations of your favorite herbs and spices.

Herb-infused Oils:

Make your own herb-infused oils by steeping herbs like rosemary, thyme, or basil in olive oil. Drizzle these oils over vegetables or salads.

Low-Sodium Broths:

Choose low-sodium or no-sodium broths for cooking soups, stews, and sauces. You can enhance the flavor with fresh herbs and spices.

Remember to read food labels carefully, as many processed foods contain hidden sodium. Gradually reducing your salt intake while incorporating these alternatives can contribute to a healthier and more balanced diet.

Read more on our informative blog post, “A Guide to Best Foods for Stroke Patients and Suvivors” to reduce the risk of stroke.

Check Your Potential for Stroke

 

The recommended daily sodium intake is less than 2,300 mg for optimal heart health. Reducing sodium intake is vital for lowering blood pressure and stroke risk over the long term. Our stroke specialist, Dr. Manish Taneja, at the Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic offers comprehensive stroke care.

Stroke and Healthy Eating

Learn how to avoid stroke by eating healthy. Discover tips and strategies for healthier food choices and improving your well-being.

We Support Your Brain Health at Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic

 

By working with an experienced stroke specialist in Singapore, you can decrease your risk of a stroke and manage potential risk factors more effectively. Reach out to the Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic to connect with our specialized stroke clinic and Dr. Manish Taneja. We handle various stroke conditions and treatments and will work closely with you and your loved ones to create a tailored plan.

Consult a Stroke Specialist in Singapore

 

Dr. Manish Taneja, is an expert in endovascular and image guided neurointerventional procedures of brain and spine. It’s important to find a stroke specialist and doctor you can trust in Singapore. He has special interest in treatment of brain aneurysms, stroke and vascular malformations. Come in for a further evaluation. Arrange an appointment with Dr. Manish Taneja, our stroke specialist.

Dr. Manish Taneja performing surgery

Stroke Resources

Transient Ischemic Attack: What You Need to Know

Not all people get strokes. However, for those who are well, warning signs of stroke can still happen. You might have heard of Transient Ischemic Stroke (TIA), which can lead to a future possible stroke.

Friends making salad

We’ve Got You Covered for Specialized Stroke Screening, Prevention, and Management

 

Imagine heart attacks where the blood flow to your heart is blocked. Similarly, a stroke occurs when the blood flow to your brain is interrupted becoming a “brain attack”. When blood supply does not reach a certain part, brain cells begin to die. Different types of stroke include ischaemic strokes (blockage of blood vessel due to blood clot) or a mini stroke, a TIA (transient ischemic attack), with no permanent damage yet serious. Stroke also occurs when a blood vessel in the brain pops causing bleeding in the brain.

Certain areas of the brain can be affected by stroke and some symptoms of a stroke including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood sugar levels increase the risk of stroke whereas an active lifestyle or controlling high cholesterol reduces the risk. How well do you know stroke? Find tips to prevent and manage stroke, the differences in stroke screening tests, and the newer technology and treatments available.

Supreme Vascular and Interventional Stroke Programs

Brain Aneurysm Resources

Discover brain aneurysm resources that go beyond the basics designed for patients. Understand the meaning of  a brain aneurysm condition, the causes, symptoms, signs, and more. Connect with your brain health.

Put Brain Aneurysm on Your Health Radar

Did you experience the worst headache of your life? Could it be a brain aneurysm that ruptures, which means bleeding in the brain? Thoughts could be racing through your mind. Then what is the difference between unruptured (a weak or thin spot on an artery in the brain that balloons) or ruptured brain aneurysm? If you’re wondering, then the Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is here to help. It’s important to look out for the tell-tale brain aneurysm symptoms, signs, causes, and risk factors.

Dr. Manish Taneja has been performing brain aneurysm treatments since 1995 from surgical clipping to latest minimally invasive procedures. Each patient is unique as is the size and location of the aneurysm. Your brain has different conditions to treat the aneurysm and artery vessel walls of a blood vessel in the brain. This calls for personalised brain aneurysm treatment depending on your symptoms, family, history, medication, and more. A simple CT scan could be just what the doctor ordered and the first step in early detection and prevention of a brain aneurysm. Come in for an easy consultation with our brain aneurysm specialist in Singapore to be on your health radar.

Other Health Conditions

The Supreme Vascular and Interventional Clinic is your “go-to” facility for various neurological conditions and treatments. To arrange an appointment with Dr. Manish Taneja, our neurointervention specialist, contact us. You can also call us at (+65) 6904 8084 for a consultation.