High-Fiber & Low-Salt Diet

iOatmeal with blackberries. Bowlful of cereal. image by Monika 3 Steps Ahead from Fotolia.com

Increasing the amount of fiber in your diet has many health benefits, including lower blood cholesterol, normalized bowel movements and weight control. A reduction in salt intake lowers blood pressure and reduces your risk of heart disease. Following a high-fiber, low-salt diet can help you manage your health and avoid any major health problems.

Fiber Recommendations

Fiber recommendations differ based on age and sex. Males between the ages of 14 and 50 have the highest fiber needs at 38 g per day. When a man reaches the age of 51, fiber needs decrease to 30 g per day. Females between 14 and 18 should consume 36 g of fiber daily, whereas females between 19 and 50 should consume 25 g per day. Women aged 51 and older should consume 21 g of fiber every day.

Tips for Increasing Fiber

Choose bran or whole grain cereals for breakfast instead of sugary, low-fiber varieties. Check labels and opt for cereals containing at least 5 g of fiber per serving. Add plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. Eat the skin whenever possible, which contains a large amount of the fiber. Replace refined breads and pastas with whole-grain varieties. Opt for brown rice instead of white rice. While it is preferable to increase your fiber intake through the foods you eat, consider a fiber supplement if you find it hard to meet your needs. Talk with your health care provider before beginning any supplementation.

Sodium Recommendations

The sodium guidelines for healthy adults are set at less than 2,300 mg per day. The lower you can get your sodium intake, the better. Cleveland Clinic notes that a reduction to less than 2,000 mg daily can be beneficial to healthy adults. For anyone with heart disease or high blood pressure, a sodium restriction of less than 1,500 mg daily may be most beneficial. A sodium restriction of less than 1,500 mg daily is also recommended for high-risk populations, such as African-Americans and middle-aged to elderly adults.

Tips for Reducing Salt

One of the easiest ways to reduce salt is to increase the amount of fresh, whole foods you eat. Fruits, vegetables, fish and unprocessed grains are naturally low in sodium. Packaged foods, canned foods and frozen foods usually contain excessive amounts of salt. If you don’t have time to prepare fresh foods and must consume processed foods, choose low-sodium or sodium-free varieties whenever possible. Instead of adding salt during cooking, use fresh herbs, sodium-free spices or citrus juices.

Restaurant foods often contain a significant amount of sodium as well. Try to eat at home whenever possible. When you do eat out, request that the chef add no salt.