Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cut the Salt to Lower Your Blood Pressure


High blood pressure is a preventable disease that affects one in three adults in the US. If you are one of the millions who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may be at risk for heart disease and stroke. Taking steps to lower your blood pressure will help to reduce those risks.

Lower Your Intake of Foods that are High in Sodium

 Eating foods that are high in sodium is a major contributing cause of high blood pressure. This is particularly true for people who are said to be salt-sensitive. If you are salt sensitive, your blood pressure is likely to rise when you eat foods that are high in salt. In some cases, this increase could be extremely high, putting you at risk for a heart attack or a stroke.

According to the CDC, consuming a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, seeds and whole grains may help to prevent high blood pressure. These foods, which are high in potassium and low in sodium could therefore have a favorable impat on your blood pressure.

Unfortunately, most Americans are ignoring the advice to eat more of the foods that can help to lower blood pressure. Instead, they are eating foods that lack the protective nutrients needed to control blood pressure, and as a result, too many people are suffering needlessly from this preventable disease. You can protect yourself by heeding the advice. The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a good model for what to eat to lower your blood pressure.

Why Cut Your Sodium Intake? 

High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. By lowering your blood pressure, you could lower these risks and prevent premature death from cardiovascular disease.

Effect of a High Salt Intake on Blood Pressure

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III found that people with higher intakes of sodium had higher blood pressure than those with lower levels of intake. The DASH trial clearly showed that reducing dietary sodium intake could result in lower blood pressure.

Food Sources of Sodium

One way to recognize those foods is to look for word cues, like salt, sodium, monosodium, salted, salt-cured, brine, sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, disodium and similar words. Salt and sodium are your main cues. Here is a short list of foods that are likely to be high in sodium and therefore should be avoided.
  • Canned soup 
  • Salted fish 
  • Corned beef 
  • Canned sausages 
  • Link sausage and other sausages 
  • Hot dogs 
  • Heat and eat frozen dinners 
  • Sauces 
  • Gravies 
  • Cheese 
  • Pizza