Heart Failure - Monitoring Fluid and Salt Intake

Taking too much fluids and salt (sodium) in your diet will cause fluid to build up in your body and worsen the symptoms of heart failure.

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How Much Fluid Can I Take?

  • Limit the amount of fluids to not more than 1.5 litres a day or as instructed by your doctor. This includes drinks such as coffee, tea, soup, porridge and water that you drink with your medication.
  • Watching your weight is important as a sudden increase in weight could mean excess fluids collecting in your body.

How Much Salt Can I Take?

We get salt (sodium) from the food we eat. The main source is sodium chloride or more commonly known as table salt. Your dietitian will advise you on the amount of salt you can take.

Major Sources of Sodium in Foods

  • Salt – added to cooking or at the table
  • Processed foods – sodium added in the processing or preserving of food e.g. salted egg, salted fish and pickles
  • Natural - sodium is naturally present in all plant and animal products

Foods High In Sodium

  • Salt
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Vegetable salts and flakes e.g. garlic salt
  • Smoked, processed or cured meats and fish e.g. ham, bacon, sausages, anchovies, (ikan bilis)
  • Meat extracts and stock cubes e.g. chicken and beef-flavoured seasoning cubes/powder
  • Salted foods such as potato chips, corn chips, salted nuts, crackers
  • Prepared condiments e.g. soy sauce, commercial salad dressings and olives
  • Prepared frozen foods e.g. nuggets and burger patties
  • Prepackaged mixes for gravies and sachet seasonings
  • Canned soups, canned meats and canned vegetables unless made without salt

Did you know?

  • Your body requires very little salt to function and most foods contain salt naturally.
  • Salty foods make you thirsty and you would need to drink more water.
  • Heart failure causes your body to hold on to extra salt and water, which leads to an increased amount of fluids in your blood.
  • Your heart will need to work a lot harder to push this increased amount of fluids around the body.
  • This extra fluid may leak into your lungs (making it harder for you to breathe), into the abdomen, or into your legs. This causes swelling in your ankles, feet and stomach, and weight gain.

What can you do?

  • Your dietitian will advise you on the amount of salt (sodium) you can take.
  • Limit the amount of salt you take to less than one level teaspoon a day, which contains about 2,000 mg of sodium.

Salt/Sodium content in common foods

Use the information provided below to help you know how much salt/sodium consumption you can take:

Note: Table salt contains 40% sodium; 2,000mg of sodium = 5g of salt or about 1 teaspoon of salt

Learn to Live With Less Salt

  • Choose unsalted food products
  • Choose fresh foods rather than processed foods
  • Avoid salty condiments and seasonings
  • Read labels carefully. Choose foods with ‘no added salt’ or ‘low sodium products’

The ‘Healthier Choice’ symbol helps you select products, which are the healthier choices in that food category.

Tip: When reading food labels, choose products that have less than 120mg sodium per 100g of the food product.


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