Does Eating Too Much Salt Effect Diabetes?

Sodium is responsible for controlling the balance of fluids in your body and helps maintain a normal blood pressure and blood volume. Consuming too much salt can raise blood pressure, resulting in fluid retention. This can cause swelling in

Updated: October 26, 2017

A poor diet, inactivity, and obesity are all associated with type 2 diabetes. Eating too much sodium does not directly cause diabetes. But relationship between salt intake and diabetes is more complex.
Sodium is responsible for controlling the balance of fluids in your body and helps maintain a normal blood pressure and blood volume. Consuming too much salt can raise blood pressure, resulting in fluid retention. This can cause swelling in the feet and other health issues that are very harmful to people with diabetes.
Those with diabetes or prediabetes are at a greater risk of high blood pressure, which can make a person more susceptible to heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease.
Processed or canned food contain more salt then required.  Foods sold in restaurants or fast food also tend to be very salty.

Some of the common foods that contain high sodium are:

  • frozen dinners and breaded meats, including pizza, burritos, and chicken nuggets
  • salted nuts
  • meat, fish, or poultry that’s been cured, canned, salted, or smoked
  • canned meals, including baked beans, chili, ravioli, soups, and spam
  • buttermilk
  • canned vegetables, stocks, and broths with salt added
  • cottage cheese
  • cheeses, cheese spreads, and cheese sauces
  • canned vegetable juices
  • boullion cubes and powdered soup mixes
  • self-rising flour, biscuits, pancake and waffle mixes, and quick breads
  • salted-top bread and rolls
  • pickles and pickled vegetables, olives, and sauerkraut
  • premade pasta, tomato sauces, and salsa
  • processed, packaged mixes for mashed potatoes, rice, pasta
  • soy sauce, seasoning salt, salad dressings, and marinades
  • salted butter, margarine, or vegan spreads
  • instant cakes and puddings
  • softened water
  • large amounts of mustard and ketchup

There are also many sodium-free foods or low-sodium foods which can be replaced by those you consume that contain a lot of salt. Some examples include unsalted canned vegetables, salt-free chips, rice cakes, and salt-free juices.

Some good low-sodium alternatives to the high-sodium foods are:

  • eggs and egg substitutes, without additives
  • low-sodium peanut butter
  • meats, poultry, and fish that are fresh or frozen without additives
  • unsalted breads, bagels, and rolls
  • muffins and most cereals
  • dried peas and beans (as an alternative to canned)
  • drained, water or oil-packed canned fish or poultry
  • milk, and yogurt
  • low-sodium canned fish
  • low-sodium crackers and breadsticks
  • low-sodium corn or flour tortillas and noodles
  • unsalted popcorn, chips, and pretzels
  • muffins and most cereals
  • all rice and pasta, if you don’t add salt when cooking
  • dried, fresh, frozen, and canned fruit
  • low-sodium canned vegetables, sauces, and juices
  • fresh or frozen vegetables, without sauce
  • low-sodium canned and powdered soups, broths, stocks, and bouillon
  • homemade soup, without added salt
  • vinegar
  • unsalted butter, margarine, or vegan spread
  • vegetable oils, and low-sodium sauces and salad dressings
  • mayonnaise
  • desserts made without salt
Many foods labeled no sodium and low sodium contain high amounts of potassium salt substitutes. You should check the level first before eating such foods, if you are on a low-potassium diet.
Many low-sodium foods may also be high in carbohydrates such as sugars and fat, which should be avoided by people with prediabetes and diabetes as these may worsen their condition. 

Tips to reduce sodium intake when cooking:

Try to eat at home more often, because it is difficult to control the amount of salt in the prepared foods you purchase outside your home. Also try to cook from scratch, as unprocessed foods usually contain less sodium than those that are partially prepared or completely prepared.
While cooking, you can reduce your sodium intake by being creative with your cooking.
You can replace the salt you would normally use for cooking with other kinds of spices that don’t contain salt. Some flavorful alternatives are pepper, herbs, ginger, garlic, lemon, vinegar.
Make sure that the spices and spice mixes you purchase do not contain extra salt. And don’t use softened water for drinking or cooking, as it contains added salt.
Sodium may not cause diabetes but it can greatly affect the health of people with prediabetes and diabetes. If you have trouble reducing the amount of salt in your diet  on your own, it can be helpful to ask for the help of a nutritionist who can guide you in your eating decisions.



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