Find out why too much salt can be a cause for high blood pressure and heart disease.
Virtually every doctor alive will tell you that if you want to reduce your blood pressure, you need to limit the amount of salt you consume—and I’m no exception. That’s because salt promotes water retention, and excess water in the body is a cause for high blood pressure levels.
How much should you cut back? More than you probably think. The average adult consumes the equivalent of nearly two teaspoons of salt a day—practically two times the upper limit for good health.
To Reduce Your Blood Pressure, Lower Your Salt Intake
Here are some things you need to know about salt consumption as you strive to reduce your high blood pressure levels.
Don’t go cold turkey and eliminate all salt. Your body requires sodium (a component of salt) to regulate fluid balance and distribution, as well as nerve and muscle cell function. Although you need some sodium, the standard diet includes way too much.
Get more of Dr. Sinatra's advice on Healthy Blood Pressure
If you're generally healthy, aim for about 2.8 grams of sodium a day. Two important tips: Don’t use salt from a shaker, and read labels to add up the amount of salt you’re taking in. The majority of the excess salt we eat is hidden in processed foods, such as canned spaghetti sauces, soups and sauerkraut.
Keep the proper sodium-potassium balance in mind. Sodium and potassium are essential for numerous biochemical processes in the body. However, whereas sodium increases water retention and causes high blood pressure levels, potassium helps to keep blood vessels relaxed and reduces blood pressure. For optimum health, strive to consume more potassium than sodium, with 3 grams of potassium as your minimum daily goal.
Avoid fast food. Many people know that regularly eating fast food can be a cause for high blood pressure. One of the reasons why is that fast food menu items are high in salt, so you can easily exceed the recommended level with just one serving. For example, a flame-broiled chicken sandwich at a fast-food restaurant can contain 1,200–1,400 mg of sodium.
Make up for the reduced salt in your diet by cooking with fresh herbs and spices. Basil, garlic, curcumin, oregano, rosemary, chives, parsley, and onion are great sources of flavor, and all of them contain natural substances that are good for reducing blood pressure.
Now It's Your Turn: How do you cut back on salt to prevent or reduce high blood pressure?