Controlling your blood pressure is essential to keeping your heart healthy. Not smoking, watching your weight, and exercise all play a role in keeping things in check. Diet also plays a role, more specifically the amount of salt/sodium.
Recent research due to be presented this month at the American College of Cardiology meeting indicate that Americans with high blood pressure are still consuming too much salt—double the recommended amount! Between the years of 1999-2012, daily average intake of sodium went up from 2900 mg day to 3350 mg day. The recommended amount of sodium for someone with high blood pressure is 1500 mg/day. Salt and water like each other a lot, so when there is excess salt in the diet, it causes extra water buildup which increases blood pressure and puts stress on the heart and blood vessels.
Start by not using the salt shaker at the table; you might even be in the habit of salting food before you even in taste it! Some say that sea salt and pink Himalayan salt are better for you than normal iodized salt, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. It’s best to avoid all added salt if possible, including sea salt, pink salt, garlic salt, onion salt, and seasoned salt. Instead, try herb blends (Mrs. Dash) or get creative with fresh or dried herbs. They add flavor without aggravating blood pressure.
If you don’t use the salt shaker, that’s great! Remember, however, that much of the salt we eat is already in the food. Reduce intake of heavily processed foods (i.e. rice mixes, boxed meals, canned soups, lunch meats). To further reduce blood pressure, make sure you also eat plenty of potassium-rich foods. The best sources of potassium are fruits and vegetables, so be sure to eat at least five servings (or more) each day.