Tuesday 9 June 2020

High Salt Diets and Your Blood Pressure

What’s considered a high salt diet? 

Sodium, a mineral contained in salt, is necessary for your body to work properly and helps control many functions (U.S. National Library of Medicine). However, studies have shown links between higher salt intake and higher blood pressure, while reducing salt intake lowers blood pressure (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2020).

Dietary sodium is measured in milligrams (mg) and should be limited to 2,300 mg a day for adults, and 1,500 mg a day for anyone with high blood pressure or heart disease (U.S. National Library of Medicine). That’s about 6 grams of salt or about a teaspoon (U.S. National Library of Medicine 2020). 

Where does sodium pop up in my diet?

Managing your salt intake can be a little overwhelming, it’s used in (American Heart Association, Inc. 2020):

  • Processed foods
  • Natural foods with higher-than-average sodium content, including cheese, seafood, olives, and some legumes
  • Table salt, sea salt and kosher salt (sodium chloride)
  • Some over-the-counter drugs
  • Some prescription medications

How do I reduce salt in my diet? 

A heart-healthy diet is vital for helping to reduce high blood pressure and should emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins like fish, which are all naturally low in salt. 

Canned and processed foods, often contain salt to preserve color. If canned or processed foods do have salt, check the label for how much per serving. Look out for these words on labels (U.S. National Library of Medicine): 

  • Low-sodium
  • Sodium-free
  • No salt added
  • Sodium-reduced
  • Unsalted

It’s also a good idea to stay away from foods, which are almost always high in salt including (U.S. National Library of Medicine): 

Processed foods, like cured or smoked meats, bacon, hot dogs, sausage, bologna, ham, and salami

  • Anchovies, olives, pickles, and sauerkraut
  • Soy and Worcestershire sauces, tomato and other vegetable juices, and most cheeses
  • Many bottled salad dressings and salad dressing mixes
  • Most snack foods, such as chips, and crackers.

Some easy swaps

For cooking, see if you can replace salt with flavor! (U.S. National Library of Medicine) 

  • Try pepper, garlic, herbs, and lemon
  • Be sure to use garlic and onion powder, not garlic and onion salt
  • Add fresh or dried herbs
  • For dressings at home, use oil and vinegar on salads instead
  • Avoid foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG).

When eating out ask for steamed, grilled, baked, boiled, and broiled foods and try not to add additional table salt, enjoy the flavors, and the experience the chef presents. 

With love,

Want to learn more!? Additional resources: 

  • American Heart Association, Inc. (2020). Shaking the Salt Habit to Lower High Blood Pressure. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/shaking-the-salt-habit-to-lower-high-blood-pressure  

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2020). The Salty Stuff. Retrieved from https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/sites/nihNIH/files/Special-Issues/Healthy%20Eating.pdf 

  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2020). Low-salt diet. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000109.htm
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