Why Sodium is so bad for the heart ?

By Hibaq Gelle

The medical profession is always telling you to cut back on your salt intake because it is bad for your health. Read on to find out more….

  • Chemical name is Na
  • Commonly coupled with Chloride (CL) to form table salt (NaCl)
  • The role of sodium is to regulate fluids, blood pressure, muscle and nerve function within the body 1
  • It is used as a food preservative.1
  • Canadian adult should consume 1500mg.1

The relationship between Sodium and Heart Health:2

Increased intake of sodium = the body’s inability to regulate excess sodium.

Havard Research Results:4

Sample Foods:4

1000mg sodium = 25000mg of salt (1g = 1000mg)
Food Amount Sodium (mg)
Fresh Vegetables (cooked without salt) ½ cup less than 50
Canned Vegetables ½ cup 140-500
Fresh Nuts 1 cup less than 20
Salted Nuts 1 cup 600-1,200
Fresh Fish 1 serving less than 90
Frozen Turkey or Chicken Dinner 1 serving 1,000-2,000

Consequences of a high sodium diet:1

  • Increased blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Detrimental effects on calcium and bone metabolism
  • Possible increase risk of stomach cancer
  • Suppression of salt receptors on tongue
  • Evidence suggests sodium increases asthma severity.

Moving Forward- tips to reduce sodium intake:4

Eat fresh foods - There are large amounts of sodium hidden in processed foods. Cut back on processed foods (i.e. canned vegetables, luncheon meats, soups, frozen entrees) and incorporate fresh foods (i.e. fruits, whole grains and vegetables).

Be conscious of condiments - Read your labels. Condiments are hidden sources of sodium (i.e. soy sauce, pickles, ketchup, MSG and seasoning salts).


  1. Health Canada. (2010). Sodium Reduction Strategy for Canada. Retrieved November 20,2010, from http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/sodium/strateg/index-eng.php
  2. Harvard Health Publications. (2010). Salt and your health, Part I: The sodium connections. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mens_Health_Watch/2010/October/salt-and-your-health
  3. Harvard Health Publications. (2010). Salt and your health, Part II: Shaking the habit. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mens_Health_Watch/2010/October/salt-and-your-health
  4. Harvard Health Publications. (2009). Sodium, salt, and you. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Womens_Health_Watch/2009/November/sodium-salt-and-you

The articles, on the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada website, are presented with the understanding that the Foundation is providing information only and not rendering medical advise. Please check with your family physician, specialist or health care professional before implementing any of the ideas expressed in these articles.