Salt (Sodium) And High Blood Pressure
One compound that has been around for thousands of years and which is used both as a preservative and to add taste to our food is salt. Unfortunately, while salt is a very valuable and necessary part of our diet, too much salt is a major contributory factor when it comes to high blood pressure.
Salt is composed of both sodium and chloride and, in terms of high blood pressure, it is the amount of sodium which you consume that needs to be watched.
On the one hand controlling your salt intake is fairly easy and is simply a matter of limiting the amount of salt which you add to food when cooking and which you put on your food at the table. On the other hand it can also be quite difficult to control your salt intake because the majority in salt in your diet is contained in a huge variety of processed foods which most of us buy and consume every day.
If you are looking to prevent the onset of high blood pressure, or to reduce an existing condition, you should limit your salt (sodium) intake to a maximum of 2,400 milligrams (mg) a day which works out at about 1 teaspoon a day.
Here are 6 tips to help you to lower your salt intake:
- Remove the salt shaker from your table. A balanced daily diet will already contain sufficient sodium and you certainly do not need to add more salt at the table.
- Read food labels when shopping. Food labeling laws have improved considerably in recent years and most foods will now carry nutritional information, including the amount of sodium contained expressed in both milligrams of content and as a percentage of the daily recommended intake.
Be careful when reading food labels to ascertain whether the sodium figure given applies to the whole of the product (package, tin etc.) or is a 'per serving' figure.
- Look for 'sodium free' or 'very low sodium' products. Many manufacturers today are aware of the dangers of too much salt in the diet and now produce food options which are labeled as 'sodium free', 'very low sodium', low sodium', 'reduced sodium', 'light in sodium' or 'unsalted'.
Where a label states 'low sodium', 'reduced sodium' or something similar you should still check the nutritional information to see just how much sodium the manufacturer considers to be 'low' or 'reduced'.
- Choose low salt snacks. If you like to snack then try to stick to such things as fruit and vegetables. If you can't live without your crisps and nuts, then choose varieties that are low in sodium or salt free.
- Eat fresh or frozen lean meat, fish, poultry and vegetables. Most salt is added to food during processing and this can often be avoided by buying food items that are essentially unprocessed. For example, buying fresh (uncooked) vegetables that are frozen is preferably to buying canned vegetables, which are often canned in salted water.
- Season food with spices and herbs. Instead of adding salt to your food at the table and seasoning your food with such things as ketchup, trying adding herbs and spices like parsley, oregano, garlic powder, vinegar or fresh fruit juice.
If you would like more information about pursuing a sound low sodium and high blood pressure diet please see foods that lower blood pressure or the DASH diet for high blood pressure