Everyone in my family, except for me and the dog, have high blood pressure. How much sodium should I consume daily to avoid this? I am 32 years old.
While you’ll have to speak to your vet for advice about the dog, you’ve come to the right place for guidance on what to eat to beat high blood pressure or hypertension. Its extremely savvy of you to begin thinking about trying to prevent hypertension early on, because although with age comes wisdom, unfortunately for many of us, it also comes with an increase in our blood pressure.
Watching your weight and alcohol intake, exercising regularly, and eating a well-balanced, blood pressure-fighting diet (the DASH diet — Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) have all been shown to help prevent high blood pressure. The DASH diet is a heart-healthy, balanced eating plan that is low in fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, and moderate in sweets; but rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods.
It would also be smart to ease up on the salt or sodium in your diet to control your blood pressure. Research supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) revealed that reducing dietary sodium helped reduce blood pressure. In this study, over 400 individuals — some with and some without high blood pressure — were randomly assigned to consume either a typical American diet or the DASH diet. Their dietary sodium intake was then adjusted at three different levels: a high intake of 3,300 mg sodium (not far off from the estimated average amount of sodium that American adults are consuming); at only 2,400 mg of sodium (the upper limit currently recommended for healthy adult Americans); and at a low level of 1,500 mg sodium. The results showed that blood pressures dropped as the sodium intake in the diet dropped, with the lowest sodium intake producing the lowest blood pressure.
“This finding should answer the question of whether or not reducing dietary sodium benefits those without hypertension”, said NHLBI director Dr. Claude Lenfant. “This study also should help establish the best level of sodium consumption for preventing and controlling high blood pressure.”
However, the winning combination when it came to promoting the biggest drop in blood pressure was seen in those individuals who followed the DASH diet, along with the lowest level of sodium (1,500 mg). Overall, with this diet combination, the systolic blood pressure (the top number of the blood pressure fraction) decreased by an average of just under 9 mm Hg and diastolic pressure (the bottom number of the blood pressure fraction) dropped an average of 4.5 mm Hg . The DASH diet/1,500 mg sodium intake combination showed even better results in those with high blood pressure.
These hypertensive-individuals experienced an average reduction in their systolic pressure of 11.5 mm Hg. The systolic pressure measures the force of the blood pounding against the walls in the arteries when the heart is pumping blood throughout your body. The diastolic pressure is the bottom number in the blood pressure equation, and represents the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest between beats.
Since you are not looking to follow in the footsteps of your family, here’s more information on the DASH diet, as well as a saltbin of information on how to shake the salt habit and reduce the amount of sodium you consume.