Salt causes more than high blood pressure

Limiting salt intake can help prevent a silent killer.

Many people have no idea that they have high blood pressure until they go to a doctor and are told of their condition. High blood pressure is a silent killer due to the fact there seems to be few, to no symptoms that one can feel. In the meantime, too much salt in the diet is damaging not just our blood pressure, but also with our vital organs.

High salt consumption can lead to reduced function of the inner lining of blood vessels. Therefore a person is at increased risk of infections and blood clots. Too much salt also complicates the hearts main pumping chamber, causing it to thicken and eventually it won’t pump as forcefully as needed.

According to Dr. William Farquar from the University of Delaware, “too much salt in your diet will sensitize neurons in the brain, therefore causing painful response to skeletal muscle contractions.”

Reducing salt consumption is important for everyone. The healthy person should have just a little over 2,000 milligrams of salt per day. Unfortunately, the average American consumes close to 3,600 milligrams of salt per day due to eating pre-packaged foods and adding salt to food. Try some of these practical tips for reducing salt intake:

  • Never add salt at the table.
  • Check the labels of condiments and convenience foods, many are loaded with salt.
  • Check the labels of all processed foods you may eat such as sauces, canned vegetables and cereal; choose low sodium options.
  • Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Among other benefits, the potassium contained in these food items helps to balance the effect of salt.
  • Try not to cook with salt; if you must, add salt at the end of your cooking process to use less.

As we approach the growing season, think about the delicious flavors of those fresh vegetables and fruits. For more tips to reduce salt, read the Michigan State University Extension article, Reduce salt with herbs and spices.

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