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Reducing salt intake can help lower blood pressure

CDC Graphic

CDC Graphic

Published: May 22, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (May 22, 2014) -- May is High Blood Pressure Education Month and Lyster Army Health Clinic’s nutrition department wants to make sure its patients know how much salt they really consume.

About 67 million people, or one in three adults, in the United States are living with high blood pressure and only about  half actually have their blood pressure under control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

High blood pressure is often called the silent killer because many people don’t know they have it and there are often no symptoms. The good news is that with regular checkups and a healthy lifestyle, patients can control and prevent high blood pressure.

High blood pressure, if not controlled, may lead to larger health concerns, such as heart attack and stroke, the two leading causes of death in the United States. High blood pressure is also a major factor in other diseases, such as congestive heart failure and kidney disease.

Reducing sodium intake is a surprisingly easy way to help control high blood pressure. About 2,300 mg or 1 1/8 of a teaspoon per day is all the sodium an adult needs. About 90 percent of Americans, ages 2 and older, eat too much sodium. Without even meaning to, we are already feeding our children too much sodium.

Reading the Nutrition Facts Label for lower sodium options will allow you to be aware of higher sodium items. Using fresh fruits and vegetables, or frozen fruits and vegetables with no salt added, will also help lower sodium intake.

People who already have high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, who are African American or ages 51 or older, need to be extra watchful of their sodium intake – about 1,500 mg or less a day is recommended for these groups.

Sodium is often used to preserve foods and can be found in large amounts of pre-packaged foods. Using less salt, or no salt at all while cooking can also reduce intake.

There are a lot of great alternatives these days to not using salt, such as spices and herbs and salt-free seasonings. Reducing salt intake is definitely not one of those areas where you have to sacrifice flavor.

When receiving your yearly healthcare check up, be sure to talk to your doctor about your blood pressure and steps you can take to keep it under control. Exercising on a regular basis, along with healthy food choices, are great steps to preventing and controlling high blood pressure.

For more information about decreasing your sodium intake, or to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider, call 255-7000.

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/126610/

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