Do you or someone you know have high blood pressure?
Do you know that one of the risk factors of high blood pressure or other heart diseases is excess amounts of sodium in the diet?
3.00 min Why is sodium important for the body.
7.10 min Recommended daily intake for sodium.
9.45 min Role of Potassium.
12.03 min DASH diet.
14.14 min Ways to reduce Sodium in your diet.
Sodium and its role in the body
Sodium is a an important electrolyte in the body that acts in normal nerves and muscle functions, as well as keeping the fluid status in the body well balanced.
Sodium along with Potassium plays an important role in regulating blood pressure by working at opposites of each other. Our kidneys work hard to keep the balance between the two by flushing out excess sodium to maintain the sodium and potassium ratio.
However, by flushing out sodium through urination, potassium is lost too.
The body reacts to low potassium levels by retaining both sodium and potassium, in turn retaining water as well. Fluid retention in the body increases the volume of blood, making the heart work harder with more force to pump blood throughout the body, thus high blood pressure.
The solution to this is simple, eat more potassium or lower sodium intake.
Sodium in foods
Sodium when attached to another element Chloride makes what we know as “table salt.” Salt is used a lot in the food industry for preservation, ingredient, and even seasoning.
The recommended sodium intake, according to the American Heart Association, is 2.3 grams or that’s equivalent to 1 teaspoon of table salt.
Sodium can also be found in other popular food sources such as: packaged foods, fast food, made to order food, restaurant food, bakery, processed meats, seasonings, condiments.
A low salt diet
A solution to reducing high blood pressure or reducing the risk of heart diseases that follows is to follow a low sodium diet.
That would mean being careful with the above mentioned foods that may have too much sodium. Eating a variety of foods throughout the week emphasizing on fresh fruits and vegetables, and of course going easy with the condiments and seasoning.
The DASH diet
The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH diet, was created by researchers who notice that high blood pressure is less common among vegetarians, vegans, or a more plant-based diet.
The DASH diet recommends eating more fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains, while ditching processed foods and condiments.
The approach to fresh foods, fresh fruits and vegetables will not only give the body an abundance of vitamins and fiber, but it will also replenish the body’s potassium.
Ways to reduce sodium
- Read the food label, check for sodium content and compare between products to opt for the less salty.
- Try to avoid processed food such as canned foods, processed meats, seasoning mixes, boxed meals.
- Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Try going easy on seasoning and condiments such as fish sauce or dunking ketchup on fries.
- Use herbs and spices to season to reduce the amount of salt and fish sauce used in cooking.
There you go! Ways to reduce sodium and why by doing so will help your heart in the long run. Nowadays we have access to so much food and convenient foods, making it a good time to take a step back and check the balance.