A high-sodium diet causes the body to retain water, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. This causes fluid to build up in the bloodstream, which leads to high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke.
The kidneys' function to clean the blood, according to WebMD. When blood contains too much sodium, they pull in more water to dilute the element and help them to remove it, as Harvard's public health website explains, and this extra volume forces the tiny muscles in veins and the large muscles of the heart to work harder. Over time, the additional work can cause the muscle tissue to stiffen, resulting in cardiac disease.
A modern American diet contains large amounts of hidden sodium, and Mayo Clinic reports that the average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day. Much of that sodium is the result of eating processed and packaged foods. Mayo Clinic recommends cutting this amount to less than 2,300 milligrams a day for most adults and to 1,500 milligrams for those over 51 years of age.
To reduce sodium intake, May Clinic recommends eating more fresh foods because fresh meats and vegetables don’t need preservatives. Next, it advises reading the labels on packaged food. Sodium appears as an ingredient under many different names. Dieters should look for monosodium glutamate, disodium and phosphatesodium alginate in addition to salt. Finally, they should try to use more herbs and spices at the table because they provide flavor without the added sodium, and some spices may even promote heart health.