Salt and Blood Pressure
Salt is one of the most common and most taken for granted food commodity in the world unless perhaps you have high blood pressure/heart or kidney disease.
But this white granular or crystalline mineral is surely far more than that. It is an essential element in the diet of some plants, animals and definitely a flavorful aspect of the human diet.
Salt is good and essential for health. It also adds a lot of taste to food. “Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt or is there any taste in the white of an egg? “- The Bible Job 6.6
Throughout history salt has been a part of stories and folk tales, culture and religious rituals. It has served as money, and even caused wars.
Salt or sodium chloride as chemists call it exists in three forms -
- Unrefined salt or sea salt
- Refined salt or table salt
- Iodized salt
It is still one of the best-known natural preservatives. However it is used in large quantities as a preservative or to season foods. Studies on convenience foods generally consumed by children show a substantially high level of salt consumption.
Too much of a good thing can cause damage and high levels of salt leads to high blood pressure especially in middle- aged populations. High levels of salt can also cause fluid retention, stomach cancer and osteoporosis.
If you moderate your salt consumption it is definitely good for both your heart and kidneys. To remain healthy, health experts recommend - 1100 to 3300 mg of sodium per day.
Remember - One teaspoon of salt contains 2000 mg of sodium.
The human body can comfortably survive on just one gram of sodium per day. Our hormones keep a check on sodium levels and make adjustments for hot weather.
With the advent of modern processed foods most people consume more than these recommended levels. Hence as you grow older do try to incorporate healthy eating habits if unfortunately you did not have such habits in your youth.
Some high salt foods include
- Most fast foods including pizzas, burgers
- Snack foods such as potato chips, salted nuts, salted pretzels
- Processed meats such as sausage, salami, luncheon meats, hot dogs
- White bread and bread roles
- Canned vegetables, baked beans
- Pre packed sauces and condiments like tomato sauce, soya sauce, mustard sauce, Worcestershire sauce
- Pappads or pappadums
- Canned vegetables
- Dehydrated or packet foods like soups, instant pasta
- Processed cheese
- Salad dressings
- Some breakfast cereals.
Scientific literature linking sodium intake to blood pressure is extensive and dates to over hundred years. Newer research suggests potassium, calcium and magnesium also play a role in blood pressure. However sodium restriction is highly recommended.
Healthy eating, following the DASH Diet and maintaining a balanced lifestyle will go a long way to help most people control or maintain blood pressure levels. It is also very important to read the nutrition information on the labels when you buy or use convenience foods or processed foods.
Usually salt does not raise blood pressure except in -those who are “salt sensitive.” The chances of being salt sensitive are high if you have blood pressure. Reducing salt intake is generally considered to be a good idea.
- Hajjar IM, Grim CE, George V, Kotchen TA. Impact of diet on blood pressure and age-related changes in blood pressure in the US population: analysis of NHANES III. Arch Intern Med. 2001;161(4):589-593
- Ruidavets J-B, Bongard V, Simon C, Dallongeville J, Ducimetiere P, Arveiler D, Amouyel P, Bingham A, Ferrierres : Independent contribution of dairy products and calcium intake to blood pressure variations at a population level. J Hypertens 2006
- About cardiovascular diseases - (https://www.who.int/cardiovascular_diseases/about_cvd/en/)
- Risk of high blood pressure in salt workers working near salt milling plants: A cross-sectional and interventional study - (http://www.ehjournal.net/content/4/1/13)
- DASH Diet and High Blood Pressure - (http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/dash-diet)
- Potassium lowers blood pressure - (http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update0705c.shtml)
- Dietary calcium intake and Renin Angiotensin System polymorphisms alter the blood pressure response to aerobic exercise: a randomized control design - (http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/4/1/1)
- Calcium - (http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/calcium.asp)