High Sodium Diets Contribute To High Blood Pressure

high sodium diets

How High Sodium Diets Contribute To High Blood Pressure

Most people know that high sodium diets are not good for people with high blood pressure but few understand why this is the case. Sodium comes to us in the form of sodium chloride or table salt.

How much sodium per day maximum are we allowed? The answer to that is you should be taking per no more that 1,500 mg per day. This is about ¾ of a teaspoon of sodium chloride, not a mountain of salt as shown in the photo above. 

Adverse effects of salt in hypertension

So what are the adverse effects of salt if you have hypertension or high blood pressure? Sodium needs water in the correct amount in order for the sodium to stay at the right level in the body. In order to do this, the kidneys must reabsorb filtered water back into the bloodstream in order to maintain normal sodium levels. This excess water can fill the blood vessels so that the pressure inside the blood vessels is increased.

In a high sodium diet water retention can be unusually high. Some people can handle this amount of sodium and water while others cannot. It is important for those who have high blood pressure to keep the sodium intake in the diet as low as possible so that the water can flow out of the kidneys, keeping the blood pressure low.

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, a condition also known as hypertension happens when the force inside the arteries of the body becomes excessive. It is recommended that everyone keep a blood pressure reading of less than 140 over 90. The top number represents the force inside the arteries when the heart is actively pumping. The bottom number is the pressure inside the arteries when the heart is not pumping and is at rest.

If the heart has too much fluid to push around the body, it causes an increase in the pressure inside the heart and the arteries and the blood pressure number goes up.

Medication to control blood pressure can do many different things. Some decrease the force of the blood pumping out of the heart. Others work on the kidneys to send signals to the rest of the body to retain water or let go of water. There are centrally acting anti-hypertensives that work on the brain’s input into high blood pressure.

Still other anti-hypertensive agents dilate the arteries so they can hold more water at a decreased pressure. Some blood pressure medication acts to get rid of water, sodium, and potassium from the kidneys so that there is less in the arteries.

Nutrition And High Blood Pressure

Besides medicine, there are things you can do with your diet that can help control high blood pressure. There are certain foods you can take in that will increase your blood pressure as well as certain foods you can take in that will lower your blood pressure. Foods that contribute to weight gain can raise the level of your blood pressure while even modest weight loss can reduce your blood pressure. 

Low sodium foods list

The food you take in when you have high blood pressure include foods that are naturally low in salt, low in fat, and have few calories in them. Instead of salting everything you eat, use things like lemon, spices, herbs and vinegar to add more flavor to foods without having to use salt. Foods that require gravies, butter, oil, shortening and salad dressings in large quantity should be avoided in those people who have high blood pressure. 

This means you should eat foods high in calcium such as low fat dairy and Greek yogurt. Calcium has been known to reduce blood pressure in healthy people. Meats should be kept lean and without observable fats.

Most ready-to-eat cereals are low in sodium and can be taken with low fat milk. Hot cereal that takes a while to cook is low in salt and is healthy for you.

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that have no added salt in them. Canned vegetables have been salted, as have canned soups. Avoid these whenever possible. Things like whole grain rice, pasta and potatoes without added salt can be flavored with herbs and are good for those with high blood pressure.

Breads are usually okay, too. If you are looking for mineral-rich foods, you can try nuts and seeds that aren’t salted. These foods will lower blood pressure. 

High Sodium Everyday Foods You Should Avoid

The sodium content of foods listed below is high. High sodium intake leads to hypertension. Foods that can raise blood pressure and can put you at a higher risk of heart disease include the following:

  • Salad dressing
  • Margarine and butter
  • Dairy products that aren’t low fat
  • Any food that needs to be fried
  • Snacks that have high sodium content
  • Soups that come in a can
  • Fast food items
  • Deli meats like chicken, turkey or sliced beef

You can eat a healthy diet that doesn’t include added fat or salt that also tastes good and is good for you. Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, a low sodium diet is best. You never know when too much sodium will tip the scales in favor of lower blood pressure and better health. 

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