Consuming too much salt raises blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90 percent of Americans eat more sodium (salt) than the recommended daily allowance. And consuming too much salt raises blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Even if you control how much salt you shake on your food, beware of the salt you may not realize is lurking in many foods.
Most of the sodium we consume comes from processed, packaged and restaurant foods. Only a small percentage comes from the salt shaker at home. The most common types of salt-packed food we are generally eating too much of are breads, cold cuts, pizza, canned soup, poultry and snacks, like chips.
“Fortunately, when sodium intake is reduced, blood pressure usually begins to decrease in a matter of a couple of weeks,” said Kelley McIntyre, M.D., internal medicine/weight management.
Dr. McIntyre advises that one of the best things you can do to keep salt intake in check is to cook most meals at home from scratch and to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. In fact, studies show a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods and with reduced saturated fat can substantially lower blood pressure.
“Eating naturally low-sodium foods, such as fruits and vegetables, provides nutrients such as potassium and fiber,” Dr. McIntyre said, “and high-potassium foods help reduce blood pressure.”
Other foods that lower blood pressure include onions, garlic, whole oats, soy, pomegranate juice and dark chocolate. Some supplements can help too, including coenzyme Q10; vitamins B complex, C and D; calcium; magnesium; and fish oil.
Healthy adults should consume no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Adults with existing high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.
Want to know more?
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