Lowering salt intake could be the key to protecting your heart. According to a new study, cutting salt intake can not only reduce blood pressure in patients with existing hypertension but also help those who are not yet at risk.
Researchers found that salt not only cut blood pressure levels, but the fall was directly connected to the amount of salt taken out of the diet. So, the more salt that was reduced, the greater the fall in blood pressure.
Many people add table salt to their food at every meal, but those who have high blood pressure or are at risk may consider simply saying no to sodium. Dr. Amy Pollak, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, says 75% of the amount of salt you get in your day-to-day diet is from processed foods or going out to eat.
“Having high blood pressure is a major risk for heart attack, for stroke, for heart failure, even for things like dementia,” says Dr. Pollak.
Lower Your Blood Pressure by 10 Points
By simply reducing salt while preparing food at home, or even asking for low sodium meals at restaurants, it may be possible to reduce blood pressure by up to 10 points.
“If you go out to eat and someone is preparing your food, just ask them, ‘Hey, don’t add any salt to my food, please,'” says Dr. Pollak.
When cooking at home, try adding more herbs and spices to replace salt.
“It takes a while to reset your taste buds to get used to that lower-salt diet, but you can make up for any flavor deficits by using more spices or more herbs.”
One key lifestyle change that can also go a long way in addition to reducing salt intake is maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight as it can also help to lower blood pressure.
“Certainly, some people can have a more dramatic effect on blood pressure with weight loss, but where you can see the most bang for your buck is really in the low-salt diet,” says Dr. Pollak.
For overall health benefits, all lifestyle changes can go a long way towards a healthy body. A low salt diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables, daily exercise, and limiting alcohol and smoking are all factors that can help to keep your heart healthy.