Salt and Sodium: Connection to High Blood Pressure

Salt and sodium are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Salt is a compound made of sodium and chloride, while sodium is a mineral that is essential for many bodily functions.

However, too much sodium can have serious consequences for your health, especially your blood pressure.

What is Blood Pressure and Why is it Important?

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries, which carry blood from your heart to the rest of your body.

Blood pressure is measured in two numbers: systolic and diastolic. Systolic is the pressure when your heart beats, and diastolic is the pressure when your heart rests between beats.

Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mmHg, while high blood pressure (or hypertension) is 140/90 mmHg or higher.

High blood pressure can damage your arteries, heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes, and increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and vision loss.

How Sodium Affect Blood Pressure.

Sodium helps regulate the balance of fluids and electrolytes in your body, as well as the transmission of nerve impulses and muscle contractions.

However, when you consume too much sodium, your body retains more water to dilute the excess sodium.

This increases the volume of blood in your bloodstream, which puts more pressure on your artery walls.

According to the American Heart Association, the average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day, which is more than double the recommended limit of 1,500 mg per day.

Most of the sodium we eat comes from processed and restaurant foods, such as bread, cheese, pizza, soups, sauces, and snacks. Even foods that don’t taste salty can have hidden sodium, such as cereals, pastries, and condiments.

How Can You Reduce Your Sodium Intake and Lower Your Blood Pressure.

The best way to reduce your sodium intake and lower your blood pressure is to eat more fresh, whole, and unprocessed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, lean meats, poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy products.

These foods are naturally low in sodium and high in potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fiber, which can help lower your blood pressure and prevent hypertension.

You can also use herbs, spices, vinegar, lemon juice, and other natural flavourings to season your food instead of salt, soy sauce, ketchup, and other high-sodium condiments.

You can also read nutrition labels and choose products that have less than 140 mg of sodium per serving, or look for low-sodium, no-salt-added, or sodium-free labels.

Another tip is to limit your intake of alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco, as these substances can raise your blood pressure and interfere with the effects of blood pressure medications.

You should also exercise regularly, manage your stress, and maintain a healthy weight, as these lifestyle factors can also affect your blood pressure and overall health.

Conclusion

Salt and sodium are not the same thing, but both can have a negative impact on your blood pressure and health if consumed in excess.

High blood pressure can lead to serious and potentially fatal complications, such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and vision loss.

Therefore, it is important to limit your sodium intake and follow a balanced, nutritious, and low-sodium diet, as well as adopt other healthy habits, to lower your blood pressure and prevent hypertension.

By doing so, you can protect your heart, brain, kidneys, eyes, and overall well-being.

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