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The Real Connection Between Salt and Blood Pressure


Who doesn’t enjoy a salty pretzel, salt and pepper on an omelet, or a dash of salt on a baked potato? Most of us enjoy salt as a seasoning for many types of foods, from sweet to bland. You can enjoy a little bit of salt on cantaloupe to sweeten it or salt on a steak to perk up the flavor. Numerous recipes call for salt to enliven the flavor of their central ingredients or blend of seasonings.

Yet, salt has been shown to play a role in high blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, or yours is starting to climb gradually, you will want to cut back on your use of salt as one of several measures to control your blood pressure. If you are a committed salt addict, here are some tips that can help you to overcome this unhealthy habit.

1. Keep the saltshaker in the cupboard. If you are used to reaching for it with just about any meal or entrée, place it out of sight so you won’t be tempted. You might even want to remove all but a little in the bottom of the shaker. Then, when it runs out, you will have to fill it again, and you may be put off by the time it would take to do this, and forego your use of salt for that food item.

2. Cook with less salt. If a recipe calls for salt, substitute another seasoning if possible. But if the salt is used for leavening purposes, check your cookbook for acceptable salt alternatives. Your doctor also may be able to recommend some options that will be healthier to use.

3. Find table substitutes for salt. There are several seasoning options on the market today. Browse this section of the grocery store to find substitutes that you can live with. At first, you may need to reduce your salt intake by a third or half, making up the difference with a flavor enhancer. But over time your craving for salt may dwindle, leaving you satisfied with a tiny fraction of salt that was called for in the original recipe or table serving.

4. Avoid salty foods. In general, these include processed foods, like ham, bacon, sausage, hotdogs and lunchmeat, and pickled or canned meats and fish. Shop for fresh versions of these items, when possible, or make fresh food substitutions. For example, instead of canned sardines, eat fresh tuna with reduced salt on a salt cracker, which has much less sodium than pickled herrings. Get the salt-free or low-salt crackers, and look for other foods, like canned vegetables, that claim to have less salt than before.

5. Learn to enjoy other types of seasonings. A dash of lemon juice on your veggies, low-salt dressings on your salads, and sodium-reduced canned soup are just some of the food items you can enjoy that have less salt. In general, try to avoid processed frozen and canned foods, as these often have more salt than fresh foods.

Many former confirmed salt addicts have been able to kick the habit. Take a few steps like these to bring your salt addiction under control, and watch your blood pressure numbers begin to decline.

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