How Sodium Increases Blood Pressure, and Why the Salt Shaker is Not the Problem

Millions of folks love their salt.

There’s probably someone in your close circle of family and friends who grabs the salt shaker with every meal and loads their food with salt.

And we all know there is a problem with salt and high blood pressure, but it’s typically not the salt shaker that’s doing the damage.

How does sodium increase blood pressure?

The human body must have water to survive. However, too much water is just as bad for your body as too little.

Kidneys use electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and chloride to maintain balance. Water moves through a cell membrane toward the side that has a higher concentration of sodium. Each kidney has a filtration system in which water and electrolytes pass back and forth through cell membranes.

Waste products and excess water are filtered from the blood and excreted in the urine, while the sodium necessary for bodily functions is returned to the bloodstream. When there’s extra sodium in your bloodstream, it pulls water into your blood vessels, increasing the volume of blood inside your blood vessels.

With more blood flowing through your blood vessels, your blood pressure increases. Over time, high blood pressure can stretch out and injure your blood vessel walls and speed the build-up of plaque that blocks blood flow.

This added pressure forces your heart to work harder to pump blood throughout your body.

So how can someone control their sodium consumption?

Controlling sodium means more than just putting down the salt shaker.

More than 75 percent of the sodium Americans eat comes from processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods – not from the salt shaker. Everyone should check labels when grocery shopping because up to 75 percent of the sodium we consume is hidden in processed foods.

Look for the words soda, sodium and the symbol Na on labels. These words show that sodium compounds are present.

Common culprits for high sodium are tomato sauce, condiments, bacon, sausage, canned soups, prepared mixes, packaged snacks and pickled foods. If you have high blood pressure you should especially avoid eating these foods.

Because many people are trying to eat a heart-healthy diet, many canned and processed food companies are now offering low sodium options which are noted on the packaging.  When eating at restaurants, many menus now show heart-healthy menu options.

Approximately 20 percent of the population have genes that cause sodium retention resulting in water retention which can also increase blood pressure.

Why should everyone reduce their sodium intake?

Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, eating less sodium can help fight the rise in blood pressure that occurs with age, thereby reducing your risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney disease and osteoporosis. Extra water in your body can also lead to bloating and weight gain.

How much salt is ok?

On average, Americans eat more than 3,400mg of sodium each day. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 2,300mg a day with an ideal limit of no more than 1,500mg per day for most adults. Because the average American’s sodium intake is so excessive, even cutting back to no more than 2,400 milligrams a day will significantly improve your blood pressure and heart health.

Here are the approximate amounts of sodium in a given amount of table salt:

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
  • 1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium

Trying to Cut Back on Salt to Reduce Blood Pressure, this Can Help

If you’re looking for help when it comes to your blood pressure, it’s important to check the sodium in your food. It’s also important to consume key vitamins, minerals and amino acids.

The amino acids l-arginine and l-citrulline are vital amino acids in the fight against high blood pressure.

L-arginine and l-citrulline work to open and expand the blood vessels by increasing the molecule nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule the body uses to regulate the blood vessels.

As we age, our bodies fail to produce as much nitric oxide as when we’re young and it causes the blood vessels to constrict and the blood pressure to rise. By adding l-arginine and l-citrulline to your diet, you can combat the loss of nitric oxide production and get healthy blood pressure support.

1 thought on “How Sodium Increases Blood Pressure, and Why the Salt Shaker is Not the Problem

  1. My mom always had issues with high blood pressure, so it’s really good to read and learn more about it (in a way it’s actually understandable). Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.