High blood pressure is a common condition in older adults and can lead to dangerous complications affecting the patient’s health. So, the question arises: why should individuals with high blood pressure avoid salty foods, and how much salt is enough? To find the answer, let’s explore the information in the following article.
Why should individuals with high blood pressure avoid salty foods?
Salty foods contain high levels of salt. Salt is a familiar and essential seasoning in daily diets for every household. It enhances the taste and flavor of dishes. However, excessive salt consumption can contribute to conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and even more dangerous, stomach cancer.
Salt is composed of two essential minerals, Sodium (Na) and Chloride (Cl), which play significant roles in the body:
- Sodium: Accounting for 40% of salt, it regulates blood volume, muscle contraction, blood pressure, and nervous system functions.
- Chloride: Comprising 60% of salt, it serves as an essential electrolyte that maintains water and mineral balance in the body.
Why should people with high blood pressure avoid salty foods?
Eating salty foods here not only refers to consuming dishes seasoned with excessive salt but also regularly indulging in items like pickled vegetables (salted cucumbers, salted tomatoes, etc.), processed foods (cold cuts, smoked meats, etc.). Although these dishes are flavorful and appetizing, they hide potential health risks.
Consuming too much salt means high levels of sodium and chloride in the body. The nature of sodium is to retain water; when it permeates the arterial walls, water will be held within the vessels. This increases blood volume, elevates blood pressure within the vessels, and subsequently leads to high blood pressure.
The kidneys play a role in regulating sodium and water levels in the blood. However, excessive salt intake disrupts this balance, resulting in higher sodium concentrations in the blood. As a consequence, the body retains more water, increasing both extracellular fluid and blood volume.
With increased blood volume, blood vessels endure higher pressure, and the heart has to work harder to circulate blood throughout the body. If this condition persists, it can lead to arterial stiffness, increasing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and even strokes.
Moreover, excessive salt can hinder the removal of fats from the bloodstream. When combined with prolonged stress, a continuous pressure on the nervous system causes arterial constriction, leading to increased peripheral resistance and higher blood pressure. Additionally, excessive salt intake can have severe implications for health, such as heart failure, kidney disease, and osteoporosis.
However, high blood pressure often lacks obvious symptoms or clear signs, and awareness of the dangers of the disease remains low. Therefore, it is sometimes referred to as the “silent killer.”
Signs that you have consumed too much salt
Although it is difficult to accurately determine the exact amount of salt in each type of food in our daily diet, there are some criteria you can use to assess whether your body is experiencing excessive salt intake:
- Frequent thirst.
- Increased blood pressure.
- Swollen hands and feet.
- Increased urination.
- Dark yellow urine.
- Kidney stones due to overworked kidneys.
- Food tastes bland and unsatisfying.
If you notice these signs, it means that the sodium level in your body is high. Therefore, the first step is to limit salt intake in your daily diet as soon as possible. Afterward, consult a doctor to find an appropriate treatment plan.
How much salt is enough?
Due to the health risks of consuming too much salt, it’s essential to know the recommended salt intake for different age groups. Here are the specific guidelines:
- Infants under 1 year old: Avoid using salt.
- Children aged 1-3: Consume less than 2g of salt (equivalent to 0.8g of sodium) per day.
- Children aged 4-6: Consume less than 3g of salt (equivalent to 1.2g of sodium) per day.
- Children aged 7-10: Consume less than 5g of salt (equivalent to 2g of sodium) per day.
- Children aged 11 and above: Consume less than 6g of salt (equivalent to 2.4g of sodium) per day.
- Adults over 18 years old: Consume less than 6g of salt (equivalent to about 2.4g of sodium) per day.
In addition to limiting salt in daily cooking, you should also avoid consuming excessive processed foods such as sausages, cold cuts, smoked meats, instant noodles, fast food, etc., as these foods are high in salt content. Other seasonings and additives like MSG, bouillon powder, fish sauce, soup powder, etc., should also be minimized.
These are some basic guidelines to help answer the question of why people with high blood pressure should avoid excessive salt consumption. Hopefully, this information can assist you and your loved ones in improving your blood pressure condition for better health.
John Alen was born in 1971 and is a doctor in the healthcare and psychology fields with many years of experience. He is currently working at easyhealthylive.com, a leading health and psychology blog. Having studied at Y1 National Medical University named after IM Sechenov, John Alen is using his knowledge and experience to help improve the physical and mental health of people in the United States.