May is Hypertension Awareness Month
Salt restriction is a basic approach in the control of blood pressure.
Salt is made two elements – 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride.
Oftentimes we use the terms sodium and salt interchangeably. It is estimated that our body needs about 500 milligrams of sodium daily for essential body processes like transmission of nerve impulses, muscle contraction and relaxation, and maintenance of fluid and mineral balance.
Based on United States Dietary Reference Intakes data, there is not enough evidence to establish a recommended dietary allowance so that the maximum or highest daily intake – the tolerable upper intake level – not likely to cause harm to health.
Studies have shown the lowest level of sodium intake that did not show deficiency but also allowed adequate intake of nutritious food for persons 14 years old and above and for pregnant women is 1,500 milligrams per day.
Chronic disease risk reduction or CDRR states 2,300-mg. of sodium per day is the maximum amount to consume for disease reduction for persons 14 years old and above and for pregnant women. Reducing sodium intake below 2,300-mg. per day has been shown to lower the risk of chronic diseases like hypertension, heart disease and stroke in the general health population.
High salt diet can cause elevation of blood pressure. If the amount of sodium increases in our body, the normal consequence is for the body to retain water to dilute the sodium and maintain what we call water balance. This leads to an increase in fluid volume inside our blood vessels and in other parts of the body.
Increase in blood volume leads to an increase in cardiac output or the amount blood pumped out by the heart per minute, leading to an increase in blood pressure. The increase in pressure gradually leads to hardening of blood vessels, stroke (brain attack), and heart attack. Heart failure can then ensue.
In normal persons, excess amount of salt and water is excreted by the kidneys, otherwise these are retained and contribute to elevated blood pressure and difficulty in controlling blood pressure. High sodium intake has also been associated with salting out of calcium from the bones and contributes to development of osteoporosis.
Are unrefined, coarser, and colored salts, which are marketed as natural and healthier, better than highly refined table salt? Sea salt is produced by evaporating sea water and has no additives. Kosher salt, mined from underground rock salt deposits, has larger and coarser grains. There are pink, red, gray or blue salts – these reflect the color of the trace minerals in the salt deposits from where they were mined, like Hawaiian volcanoes and the Himalayan mountains.
Coarser salts are pricier than table salt but are not much different from table salt because by weight they have the same content of sodium.
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