High blood pressure or hypertension is often referred to as the “silent killer” because there are no apparent symptoms. Lending to the name “silent killer,” many people don’t even know if they have it.
In the video below, Amanda Haney talks about ways you can limit your salt intake to lower your blood pressure.
Continue reading for more information.
Poorly controlled blood pressure damages arteries over time. This leads to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and heart failure. Fortunately, you can make a few simple changes that lend benefits to blood pressure and overall health.
1) Fresh is best!
Did you know 75% of the salt in the diet comes from packaged and processed foods? This is a shocking yet preventable statistic. It’s simple: select fresh fruits and vegetables as often as possible. Canned and frozen varieties are okay as well.
Choose fresh whenever you can but keep in mind that plain, frozen fruits and vegetables are as nutritious as fresh. Avoid frozen vegetables in a sauce, like broccoli and cheese, because it adds a significant amount of sodium.
When selecting canned varieties, make sure the label reads “no salt added.” If you can’t find a “no salt added” option, rinse the vegetables before consuming to wash off the residual salt.
Packaged, pre-made foods like frozen meals, canned soups, and marinara sauce are often full of salt. I recommend cooking homemade, from scratch meals as often as possible. This helps reduce salt intake while increasing nutrients in the diet.
2) Have fun with herbs and spices!
Even if you’re cooking with fresh ingredients, you could be getting too much salt from marinades or additions during the cooking process. Herbs and spices bring exciting new flavors to your favorite dishes without adding extra sodium.
For example, try basil for a sweet flavor in your sauces or pasta dishes. Rosemary will bring an earthy flavor to your meats or marinades. Dill pairs well with lighter dishes like fish, yogurt sauces, and pasta salads.
Most importantly, don’t ruin all your hard work by adding salt to your finished meal right before eating it. Even one pinch of table salt contains about 400 mg of sodium! I recommend removing salt from the table altogether and offering things like cracked pepper or freshly squeezed lemon.
3) Dine smarter
Most restaurants use a copious amount of salt. Don’t let your meal outings derail your health goals. Instead, choose foods that you already know are low in sodium like lean meats, seafood, and steamed vegetables. Hold the sauces, gravies, and dressings or ask for them on the side so you can be in control of your portion. And don’t be afraid to ask that your meal be prepared salt-free!
4) Read food labels
Salt is listed in milligrams of sodium on the nutrition facts panel. The American Heart Association and USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend no more than 2,300 mg (or 2.3 grams) of salt per day. If you already have high blood pressure, the daily recommended amount is 1,500 mg per day. To achieve this target, try to limit your meals to no more than 500mg of sodium.
Overall, consuming a healthy diet is a huge part of prevention and treatment for high blood pressure. I recommend you eat healthily, exercise regularly, manage your stress, and quit smoking for the most significant benefit to your health. If you have high blood pressure, meet with your registered dietitian today to learn more about decreasing the salt in your diet and making positive changes to keep your heart healthy!