#2: Lower your salt intake (54! non-drug ways to lower blood pressure)

Get your salt (sodium) intake down below 1000 mg per day. (The actual number seems to be somewhat in debate– 1000 mg might be too low, and different individuals may need to hit different values to have an effect). My point here is mostly to cut down on your salt. Most prepared foods have some salt, so you have to be careful when trying to add up the amounts – it’s easy to miss substantial amounts of salt. Of course, the body has a need for salt, so I wouldn’t suggest that anyone go on an ultra low salt diet. Be warned that many types of bread have 100 mg per slice, some cheeses have 400 mg of salt or more per slice, and some canned goods contain up to 95 0mg per tin.

Salt has been a somewhat controversial issue — is it the salt itself or is it other ingredients in the salty foods associated with higher blood pressure? Many highly processed foods have a high salt content and low nutritional value. So, perhaps it isn’t the salt reduction itself, maybe the nutritional improvement from substituting other healthier foods is what makes the difference. Nevertheless, there is a theory that excess salt damages the cardiovascular system over time. Studies show that in about half of the cases of hypertension, the reduction of salt in the diet proved to be helpful. The elderly and African Americans are the most likely to benefit from restricted salt intake.

My personal observation is that ingesting a high dosage of salt (2000 mg+ per day), if I have several back-to-back meals that are loaded with salt, my blood pressure will rise 20/20 points and stay up for 3 days. On the other hand, if I get my salt down to a more reasonable level, I haven’t found any improvement from dropping it further. I do feel that salt is somehow hard on the body and it probably does put stress on the cardiovascular system. It seems from reading the medical literature that if you follow a low salt diet for extended periods of time, like years, that there is a kind of accumulative health benefit. Again, the bulk of the benefit may come from the fact that low salt foods tend to be healthier as a whole, rather than the negative impact of the salt itself. My personal thought is that both effects are operating, salt itself is harmful in some way, and the healthy food – less processed, less chemicals of low salt food, also improves overall health.


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