Most of us know that we should limit the amount of sodium we take in. Too much sodium causes us to retain water and raises blood pressure, neither of which we want to deal with during pregnancy.
Recent research suggests another important reason for limiting our salt and sodium intake during pregnancy. According to the study, conducted through the University of Sao Paulo’s School of Medicine, a diet that’s high in salt can lead to a difference in the way your baby’s heart develops. The difference is particularly pronounced in boys.
Women who eat normal amount of salt don’t need to worry about changing their habits drastically during pregnancy unless they have pre-eclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure). The occasional indulgence of cravings for salty snacks is fine, too, under normal circumstances.
If, however, you find yourself constantly craving salty foods or if you typically use more than an average amount of salt to your food, you may want to show a little restraint. Consult your doctor or nutritionist regarding what levels of sodium intake are acceptable during pregnancy.
If you are advised to cut back on your salt intake, try these alternatives to quell your salt cravings:
- Mrs. Dash. They offer several varieties of sodium free food seasonings.
- Morton Salt Substitute. This tastes a lot like salt, but is actually potassium chloride. Not only does it NOT add sodium, but it also adds potassium, a healthy nutrient, to your diet.
- Garlic. Adding a little garlic to your cooked foods will give it just a touch of saltiness.
- Herbal salt substitutes. There are several recipes available online.
If you must add salt to your food, simply cutting back can make a big difference in your level of sodium intake.
At the very least, reducing your sodium intake will help prevent bloating and water retention, common problems during pregnancy. It could also reduce your chances of having pre-eclampsia. If the Sao Paulo University study is any indication, reducing your salt intake during pregnancy may also have a positive effect on the way your baby’s heart develops.
What have you done to reduce your sodium intake during pregnancy?