Eliminating Hidden Salt Helps Control High Blood Pressure

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Food and Nutrition, Blood Pressure
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

I’ve written a lot about healthy blood pressure over the past few weeks, and there’s good reason for that. Controlling chronic hypertension is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Today I want to go back to the relationship between diet and blood pressure levels, and talk specifically about salt.

Most people think they’re doing a good job cutting down on their salt intake simply by sitting down for a meal and not reaching for the salt shaker. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. What you eat is just as important.

The majority of salt we consume is hidden in the ingredients used to increase the shelf-life of processed and fast foods. Some salty choices, like potato chips, are obvious, but others you may not be aware of.

I’ll never forget a hypertensive patient of mine who ate his fill of canned ham (packed with salt) one Easter Sunday. The next day he was in the emergency room in hypertensive crisis, having an episode of acute congestive heart failure. His heart couldn’t handle the enormous amount of salt he’d eaten.

Now, I’ll admit that was an extraordinary situation, but it happens, and it underscores the need to be careful with salt intake—especially if you have high blood pressure levels, bad circulation, or other cardiovascular problems.

So the next time you reach for something to eat, make sure it’s not full of "hidden salt." I’ve put together a partial list of products that are loaded with it, to help you steer clear of some of the worst offenders:

  • Canned and dried (packaged) foods, especially soups
  • Potato chips, pretzels, saltines
  • Salty or smoked meats—bacon, bologna, corned beef, luncheon meats, sausage—canned meats, and pickled meats
  • Salty or smoked fish—anchovies, caviar, herring, and sardines
  • Pickles and sauerkraut
  • Salted nuts
  • Olives
  • Processed cheese and cheese spreads
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Canned vegetables and vegetable juices
  • Ketchup and tomato sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Frozen pizza

Remember, by lowering your blood pressure, you’re taking control of one of the most dangerous heart risk factors. Start reducing your hidden salt intake today, and you’ll be sure to have a healthier heart tomorrow.

For more ways to maintain healthy blood pressure, visit www.drsinatra.com.

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