If you are able to reduce your daily salt intake to recommended levels you will significantly reduce your risk of high blood pressure.
Medical research has consistently demonstrated that if your diet is contains high levels of sodium this can contribute to high blood pressure and to the complications that can follow from that - kidney and heart disease.
Currently the recommendation for adults is for no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily. Studies of diets in most Western countries indicate that the average levels are at least 1000 milligrams per day higher than that.
In a recent US study the researchers estimated that if it were possible to reduce the average sodium intake down to the recommended level of 2,300 milligrams per day, this would result in a decrease of more than 11 million cases of high blood pressure in the US each year. This would be a significant decrease as current estimates are that more than 70 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure.
Cutting down on sodium intake sounds relatively simple but it is in fact fairly difficult for most individuals to do. That is because so much of the sodium that we all consume comes not from our own salt shakers, but from packaged and processed foods we buy and from the meals we eat out.
Reducing the amount of salt you use during your cooking, and also reducing the amount you add when at the table will certainly reduce your sodium intake. But how can you monitor and control the amount of salt you will get from eating packaged, processed foods and from eating fast foods and restaurant meals?
Effective approaches include:
- reading labels on packaged food is a good start to becoming aware of just how much sodium you will be consuming if you purchase that item, and so will allow you to monitor what your daily sodium intake really is.If there are lower salt alternatives available in that type of packaged food, then changing your buying practices will help you reduce your salt intake.You should be aware that even foods labelled as ‘healthy foods’ may indeed have reduced levels of sugar and fat, and hence of calories, but may not have reduced the level of salt. Read the labels carefully.
- requesting less salt, or no salt, when ordering your meals when eating out will also contribute to helping your reduce your sodium intake levels. Most, if not all, restaurants and fast food providers will respond to your request in order to ensure that they retain you as a customer. In time, if increasing numbers of their customers keep requesting lower sodium levels in their meals, the restaurants and fast food providers may respond more broadly, and more permanently, to meet these customer demands to provide food with lower levels of salt.
In the interests of your own health, changes to your buying habits and to your eating habits will probably be necessary to ensure that you reduce your daily sodium intake to a level that will help your prevent the onset of high blood pressure.