How (and Why) to Cut Back on Salt for Improved Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (also known as hypertension) is incredibly common. Nearly half of all American adults have high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are several factors that can contribute to high blood pressure, including your diet and lifestyle. 

Our team of primary care doctors and specialists at Midwest Regional Health Services offers hypertension treatment at our office in Omaha, Nebraska.

How (and why) to cut back on salt for improved blood pressure

Hypertension (elevated blood pressure, over 130 systolic and over 90 diastolic) increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the CDC.

Too much salt in your diet causes a sodium imbalance that makes your body retain extra water. The extra water increases your blood pressure, which puts stress on the artery walls as your blood flows to and away from your heart and circulates throughout the body.

Over time, that stress on the arteries weakens them and increases your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Hypertension can be managed by making changes to your lifestyle and diet, and with medication.

Tips for lowering your salt intake

Even if you don’t add large amounts of salt to your food, many processed and pre-packaged meals and fast food contain high sodium levels. Many people eat much more salt than they think. The average American eats over 3,400 mg of sodium every day, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

That’s almost 1,000 mg higher than the recommended daily average, which is less than 2,300 mg for adults. Since frozen meals can have as much as 800 to over 1,000 mg of sodium in a single serving, it’s very easy to exceed the recommended sodium intake every day.

With a few proactive steps, you can track and manage your sodium intake on a daily basis to stay within a healthy range. 

Here are a few tips to get you going:

  1. Read your food packaging labels and ingredients
  2. Limit how much processed and frozen food you eat
  3. Don’t load up on added salt with condiments like mayo and salad dressings
  4. Choose low sodium alternatives to your favorite brands
  5. Eat whole grains like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and bread
  6. Eat smaller servings to manage your calories and sodium intake throughout the day
  7. Eat more fruits and vegetables

Making drastic changes to your diet and lifestyle overnight can be difficult and overwhelming, making it more difficult to sustain the changes in the long term. Start small, and make manageable changes and substitutions over time so that you don’t feel deprived. 

It’s always a good idea to consult with a doctor or nutritionist to make healthy changes to your diet and wellness routine.

For more information about how to prevent and manage high blood pressure, contact Midwest Regional Health Services today to schedule an appointment with a member of our primary care team.

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