I am hypertensive, what should I do with salt?

Salt is essential for our body and for many functions. But the relationship between sodium consumption and hypertension is also known, as high intakes can negatively affect hypertension control.

For adults, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends, under normal conditions, less than five grams – a little less than a teaspoon – of salt per day. Salt intake in Spain far exceeds this recommendation. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) claims that five grams per day is enough to meet our needs.

But data on salt consumption among Spaniards published by the Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (AESAN) indicates that 9.8 grams of salt are consumed per day, which is almost twice the recommended amount.

In March of this year, the WHO published the first global report on reducing sodium intake, warning of the health consequences of uncontrolled salt consumption. Therefore, it works to raise awareness and reduce global sodium intake by 30% by 2025.

There are several mechanisms linking high salt intake to hypertension. One of them is water retention, that is, the greater the salt intake, the greater the water retention, which causes the walls of the blood vessels to dilate, which increases blood pressure and causes an increase in cardiac output.

If, unfortunately, we already have high blood pressure and hypertension, that is, our levels are above 140 mmHg and 90 mmHg, salt consumption further increases this pressure, which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. , stroke and kidney diseases. .

In most cases, hypertension does not appear as a result of any disease, but is usually a problem that we face due to family predisposition and factors such as sedentary lifestyle, overweight and high salt consumption.

Therefore, reducing salt intake is one of the easiest ways to lower blood pressure. It has been estimated that reducing salt intake from ten to six grams per day will reduce deaths from stroke by 16% and deaths from coronary heart disease by 12%.

A reduction of approximately 1.75 grams of sodium per day has also been shown to be associated with an average reduction in blood pressure of 5.4/2.8 mm Hg in people with hypertension.

However, these effects may not be the same for everyone, as it depends on factors such as each person’s blood pressure, salt intake, genetics, or medication use.

There are many foods that contain salt in our normal diet, so if you are diagnosed with hypertension, it is advisable to reduce or completely eliminate sodium intake. Besides helping to control blood pressure, it makes us feel less thirsty.

One of the easiest ways to reduce the level of salt we consume is to not add more when cooking and to remove salt changers from the table, as 20% of salt intake comes from what is added during cooking and at the table. That is, “visible” salt, which we add during cooking and seasoning. But there is more:

One of the problems with interpreting labels is that salt and sodium are the same thing. But as the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) warns, they are not the same. Salt is a chemical compound consisting of sodium and chloride, and sodium is a mineral and one of the chemical components of salt.

That said, we can say that the salt content of one food can vary greatly from another. In addition, most of the salt we eat is hidden in the food we buy, and similar products can vary dramatically in the amount of salt they contain.

Consulting the nutritional information helps to see if they are low (0.25 grams of salt per 100 grams) – this is the most recommended – medium (0.25-1.25 grams of salt per 100 grams) or high (1.25 grams of salt ). or more per 100 grams).

This is where it helps to clearly understand the difference between salt and sodium, since the labels show the grams of sodium, which we have to multiply by 2.5 to know the amount of salt. Thus, if a food contains 0.19 grams of sodium per 100 grams, it has a salt content of 0.475 grams, which would be the average salt content.

A salted product has no more than 0.12 grams per 100 grams of product, while a very low sodium product has 0.04 grams per 100 grams and one without salt has no more than 0.0005 grams per 100 grams.

As the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition (SEEN) warns us, the amount of salt we consume is related to the amount of food we eat. Thus, it will not always be the food with the highest salt content that will provide us with the most salt, because if we eat many foods with “average” amounts of salt, we will end up taking in too much. of salt. But if we eat two or three olives, very high in salt, the amount of sodium may not be excessive.

Source: El Diario





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