Regulating daily sodium intake reduces the risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. Eating a low-sodium diet also makes individuals less likely to suffer from heart attack, kidney disease, stroke and osteoporosis later in life, according to the American Heart Association.
The American Cancer Society estimates that one-third of the U.S. population, or 76.4 million people, have high blood pressure as of 2015. The recommended daily intake is 1,500 milligrams, but a maximum intake of 2,300 milligrams is also considered safe by many health organizations. Sodium is necessary for the body to control fluid levels, but consistently high consumption can overwhelm the kidneys and cause the body to store excess water in the bloodstream. As a result, the increased blood flow puts heavy pressure on blood vessels, which can damage tissue in the vessel walls and lead to plaque blockages. Over time, this plaque buildup leads to cardiovascular problems by causing the heart muscle to work harder when pumping blood.
A low-sodium diet should be high in fiber-rich foods, such as dried legumes, whole grains, vegetables and fruits, Cleveland Clinic advises. Individuals should also look for foods labeled "low-sodium," which contain less than 140 milligrams per serving, or "no sodium," which contain less than 5 milligrams. Processed foods are often high sources of sodium. For example, the average beef hot dog contains about 585 milligrams, while 1 ounce of American cheese contains about 443 milligrams.