Blood Pressure: Latest Research shows how excess salt is adversely impacting your health

High Blood Pressure

According to recent research, giving up just one teaspoon of salt per day can reduce blood pressure nearly as much as taking medicine.

According to the researchers, this is one of the biggest studies ever conducted to examine the impact of lowering dietary sodium intake in patients taking high blood pressure (BP) medications.

“We found that 70-75% of all people, regardless of whether they are already on blood pressure medications or not, are likely to see a reduction in their blood pressure if they lower the sodium in their diet,” said study co-author Norrina Allen, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. 

She said that prior research had not determined whether lowering sodium intake could further lower BP in individuals already taking medication for it.

Participants in the study, who ranged in age from middle-aged to old, cut back on salt by roughly one teaspoon per day.

“The result was a decline in systolic blood pressure by about 6 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), which is comparable to the effect produced by a commonly utilized first-line medication for high blood pressure,” said co-principal investigator Dr. Deepak Gupta, an associate professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in Nashville, Tenn. 

The pressure in your arteries during a heartbeat is known as your systolic blood pressure. When calculating blood pressure, this is the first number.

High BP is a leading cause of illness and death worldwide. The added pressure on arteries can trigger heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes. It affects the heart’s ability to pump blood effectively, Allen said. 

213 men and women, ranging in age from 50 to 70, participated in the study. For one week, they were randomized to either a low-sodium (500 mg total daily) or high-sodium (2,200 mg daily added to their regular diet) diet. After that, they changed and adopted the other diet.

Participants wore BP monitors and collected urine for a full day before each study visit.

When they adhered to the low-sodium regimen, 72% of participants’ systolic blood pressure was lowered in comparison to their usual diet.

Systolic pressure dropped by 7 to 8 mm Hg when they ate the low-sodium diet compared to the high-sodium diet, and by 6 mm Hg compared with their usual eating habits, researchers said.

“The effect of reduction in dietary sodium on blood pressure-lowering was consistent across nearly all individuals, including those with normal blood pressure, high blood pressure, treated blood pressure, and untreated blood pressure,” Gupta said in a Northwestern news release.

The results, according to researchers, highlight how crucial it is to limit sodium intake.

“The fact that blood pressure dropped so significantly in just one week and was well tolerated is important and emphasizes the potential public health impact of dietary sodium reduction in the population, given that high blood pressure is such a huge health issue worldwide,” study co-author Dr. Cora Lewis, professor/chair of epidemiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in the release.

“It is particularly exciting that the products we used in the low-sodium diet are generally available, so people have a real shot at improving their health by modifying their diet in this way,” she added.

The findings were published Nov. 11 in the Journal of the American Medical Association and presented Saturday at an American Heart Association meeting in Philadelphia.

Let’s define high blood pressure

When your blood pressure—the force of your blood pressing against the walls of your blood vessels—is abnormally high on a regular basis, it is referred to as high blood pressure, or hypertension.

How your blood pressure and circulatory system work

Your tissues and organs require the oxygenated blood that your circulatory system distributes throughout the body in order to survive and function correctly. Blood is forced through a web of tube-shaped blood vessels, including arteries, veins, and capillaries, by the force generated by the heartbeat. Two forces combine to produce this pressure, or blood pressure: Systolic pressure, the first force, is created when blood leaves the heart and enters the arteries that make up the circulatory system. The diastolic pressure, or second force, is produced while the heart is at rest in between heartbeats. In a blood pressure reading, these two forces are each represented by a number.

What is considered high blood pressure?

There are two numbers used to measure BP. The pressure in your blood vessels during a heartbeat, known as the systolic pressure, is represented by the first, or top, number. The greater of the two values is the systolic pressure. The force of blood in your arteries when your heart is at rest in between beats is measured by the second, or bottom, number. The lower figure, known as the diastolic pressure, is the lower of the two.

Normal pressure is 120/80 or lower. Your BP is considered high (stage 1) if it reads 130/80. Stage 2 high blood pressure is 140/90 or higher. If you get a blood pressure reading of 180/110 or higher more than once, seek medical treatment right away. A reading this high is considered “hypertensive crisis.”

what causes high blood pressure in young adults?

In most cases, it’s not clear exactly what causes high blood pressure. But there are things that can increase your risk.

Things that can increase your risk of getting high BP

  • If you are overweight
  • You eat too much salt and do not eat enough fruit and vegetables
  • You do not do enough exercise
  • If you drink too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
  • If you smoke
  • You have a lot of stress
  • If you are over 65
  • Incase you have a relative with high BP
  • If you are of black African or black Caribbean descent
  • Incase live in a deprived area

Making healthy lifestyle changes can sometimes help reduce your chances of getting high blood pressure and help lower your BP if it’s already high

High blood pressure diet

Healthy diet, weight management, regular exercise, moderation in alcohol consumption, and quitting smoking can all help prevent or lower high BP.

Eat lots of fruits and vegetables and limit the amount of salt in your diet.

The Eatwell Guide lists the various food categories that make up a healthy diet and illustrates the amounts in which we should consume each one. [G]

Elevate your BPwith salt. Your blood pressure rises with the amount of salt you consume. Try consuming no more than 6g (0.2oz), or roughly one teaspoon, of salt per day.

Consuming a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables, wholegrain bread, pasta, and rice, as well as other high-fiber foods, can also help lower blood pressure.

Try to consume five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

Cut down on caffeine

If you have more than four cups of coffee a day, your BP might go up.

If you enjoy drinking a lot of tea, coffee, or other caffeinated beverages like cola and some energy drinks, you might want to cut back.

While drinking tea and coffee is acceptable as part of a balanced diet, it’s crucial to remember that these beverages shouldn’t be your primary or only source of water.

Natural ways to lower blood pressure

Balance nutrients.

Go for less sodium (under 1,500 mg per day) and more potassium

Consume probiotics

Eating food that contains probiotics—consumable live bacteria—has been linked to healthier blood pressure.

Lose even a little weight.

It is being discovered by researchers that excess weight can lead to damage to the heart muscle.

Work out

Did you know that, in certain situations, exercise can be just as good for your heart as medication?

Reduce tension.

Everybody experiences stress from time to time. However, chronic stress can cause your blood pressure to rise and remain elevated for longer than is optimal.


Sometimes you can lower high blood pressure solely through lifestyle changes. In other cases, treatment requires both a healthy lifestyle and medications, according to Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center cardiologist Michael Blaha, M.D., M.P.H.

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