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If you’re suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure, you don’t have to let the condition control your life. Your doctor may recommend pills whenever your blood pressure has shot above the normal. But these are only temporary remedies which rectify the situation in that moment, but not permanently.
There’s full scientific proof of how sodium or salt intake affects your blood pressure. In fact, reducing your salt intake is the only natural and quickest way to keep your blood pressure at bay. Studies show that the more salt you consume, the more your blood pressure builds up. It makes your body retain water. So the more you consume it, the more aggressive the excess water will affect your blood pressure. So if you already have hypertension, eating more salt can cause serious health problems. Furthermore, eating more than the recommended daily intake will make hypertension drugs such as diuretics fail to work.
According to the American Heart Association, people consume more sodium than they should. They recommend less than 1,500mg of sodium each day. In other words, this is less than a teaspoon from all your meals everyday. More people are also hooked to the habit of adding salt on the table from their salt shaker, which is not recommended at all. Table salt is estimated to be about 40% sodium.
Furthermore, more of the salt we eat today is hidden in processed foods such as breakfast cereals, bread, biscuits or takeaway meals. This makes up 80% of the salt we consume. Only 20% of the salt we eat come from the amount we add into our daily meals.
To keep track of the level of your salt intake, you need to watch the kind of food you eat. You should aim at consuming foods that are low in salt. This is the first step to checking the level of hidden salt that you consume everyday. Then you should stop adding salt on the table when food is ready–this is not recommended especially when you’re suffering from hypertension.
By checking the food label, you’ll know if the kind of food you’re eating is high, medium or low in salt content. Never confuse this information with sodium level though.
(a) Low salt level
Anything equal or less than 0.3g of salt per 100g of food is healthy enough to consume. Eat more of these and you won’t upset your blood pressure.
(b) Medium salt level
Anything between 0.3g to 1.5g per 100g of food is considered medium in salt content. You may eat small amounts but not on a frequent basis.
(c) High salt level
Anything beyond 1.5g of salt per 100g of food is considered deadly for your health. If you have hypertension, avoid these completely.
Ways you can eat less salt to control your blood pressure without feeling deprived:
1- If possible, never add salt on some foods when cooking them. A few of those foods we are talking about include sauce, stock cubes, curry power and so forth. These tend to have salt in them.
2- If you want your food to taste, you can get extra flavor from spices and herbs. You could try out things like ginger, chilli, lemon and sometimes lime juice. They work as great.
3- If you feel that it’s hard to eat food without salt, go for sodium substitute instead of salt. However, just in case you have kidney or diabetes problems, you may want to check with your doctor first.
4- Add-on such as ketchup, pickles or mustard can contain more salt. The good news is that there are low-level salt options out there, so check the label to ascertain this.
5- Furthermore, bread and some cereals can contain more salt as well. Again you can always check the brands and pick the ones with low level of salt.
6- Smoked fish or meat contain salts as well; avoid these if you can.
7- Just in case you’re going to eat out, ask if it’s possible for them to make your food separate with less salt. It’s not always possible, but it’s worth asking.
8 These days, some recipes target low-salt consumers. Such cookbooks are available freely over the web. You may want to research on them, though there are paid options as well. These cookbooks target those suffering from high blood pressure.
Relationship between weight, salt intake and hypertension
In the year 1999, the American Medical Association published their findings. Their main focus was particularly on overweight individuals, their salt intake and how they were likely to die from conditions such as stroke, or any other heart disease. According to the journal, if you consumed more salt and you were overweight, you raised the risk of developing stroke by 32%.
These individuals were also 89% more likely to die from stroke, 44% more likely to die from coronary heart disease, and also 61% likely to die from cardiovascular diseases. These percentages only applied to those who ate more than 5g of salt every day.
Then there was the DASH sodium study (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension). This study played a very significant role in the diet debate. Their aim was to study 3 levels of salt on 2 dietary patterns of people, both with normal and high blood pressure. Those who were on the DASH diet, who consumed at least 4g or less of salt experienced a significant reduction in their blood pressure. Their cholesterol levels were also greatly reduced when they combined a great diet with low salt intake.
Current salt intake all over the world.
Unfortunately, the average salt intake collectively across the world is about 8.1g per day, far from the recommended 5g or less per day. If you’re already suffering from high blood pressure, or you are at a risk of developing it, you should be very careful with what you eat in terms of the amount of salt content present in that particular food. You can consume less of processed foods and also check food labels. Don’t be too hard on counting the exact salt intake per day, but you can always be safe when you take foods with less salt.
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