You know that your blood pressure can be affected by your sodium intake. After all, you have heard all about how excess salt in the diet can lead to a rise in your blood pressure. And, if you have been diagnosed with hypertension, your doctor might have even told you that you should consider reducing the amount of salt that you consume through your daily diet in order to bring your pressure down to a normal level. In other word, finding your sodium and blood pressure balance matters to your health and wellbeing.
What are some steps that you can take to eat better so you can prevent hypertension, or help reduce it if you already have it? Check out the tips on sodium intake below to get started.
First Off, Look Beyond Your Table Salt
Sure, the amount of salt that you add to your homemade recipes, and the salt that you add to your prepared meal when you are at the dinner table, can certainly have an impact on your overall sodium intake every day. However, table salt is not the only source of sodium in people’s diets these days. In fact, the majority of the dietary sodium Americans consume comes from eating packaged and prepared foods.
According to the American Heart Association, other major sources of salt include processed and packaged foods. If you make it a point to eat those types of foods less often, you can begin taking some major steps towards reducing your overall salt intake, and that can benefit your heart.
Other foods to consume in moderation because they might be higher in salt than you think include:
- Some legumes
How Much Sodium Should You Aim to Get?
If you want to help keep your blood pressure within a healthy range, it is a good idea to consume 2,300 mg or less per day of sodium. That being said, keep in mind that this number is the upper limit.
Ideally, it is often sensible to aim lower than the maximum daily recommended intake. For some, this means limiting consumption to 1,500 mg or less per day, especially for those who have hypertension. For others with certain health conditions, it may be ideal to drop down to 1,000 mg per day. Be that as it may, it is always recommended that you discuss what daily sodium consumption level is best for you with your doctor.
Should You Try to Cut Salt Out of Your Diet Entirely?
No. While eating too much salt can certainly be bad for your health, potentially contributing to high blood pressure, kidney problems, serious heart conditions, osteoporosis, stroke and fluid retention, this does not mean that salt should be removed from your diet completely.
Sodium is an essential mineral that is an important nutrient for the human body. When consumed in appropriate quantities, the body uses salt to maintain healthy blood pressure and balance fluids in the blood. It is also vital for nerve and muscle function. Therefore, while most Americans could probably benefit from a lower sodium diet compared to their current consumption levels, eating an insufficient amount of sodium isn’t good for you, either. This is why it is important to find the right sodium and blood pressure balance for you.
Cooking Tips for Low-Salt Diets
If you want to follow a low-salt diet, it’s important to begin reading labels. Whenever possible, choose products that are labeled low-sodium. Plus, when you are calculating how many milligrams of salt you are ingesting in a day, reading labels can be especially helpful because it lets you easily do some math to figure it all out.
Do you cook at home? Great! Start using lower amounts of salt to season your food. Little by little, your taste buds will adjust, and you will end up preferring less salt before you know it. You can also take this as an opportunity to experiment with a variety of spices and herbs to season your food in a different, and healthier, way.
Have more veggies and fruits, as well as unsalted seeds and nuts, when preparing meals and having snacks. You can also use dried peas, lentils, and beans for your homemade meals to help cut back on salt. And, when you sit down to eat, just enjoy the flavors of the foods without adding additional salt.
Finding the Sodium and Blood Pressure Balance – You Can Do It!
A lot of people find it hard to cut back on their salt intake, but for the benefit of your heart and blood pressure, it is most definitely worth it. Once you get the hang of maintaining your sodium and blood pressure balance, you’ll realize it isn’t difficult to do long-term when you’re able to make informed decisions.
Just remember, if you are concerned about your blood pressure and/or think that dramatically reducing your sodium intake may be beneficial to improving certain health conditions, talk to your doctor before you make any drastic changes to your diet. It’s important to make sure the changes you make are the best for your wellbeing.