Sodium recommendations have been revised recently. Americans 51 years and older, African Americans, and those diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease are advised to consume no more than 1,500 milligrams (mg) a day.
The recommended amount for everyone else is 2,300 mg, the amount of sodium in one teaspoon of salt. Currently, the average American consumes 3,400 mg daily. If Americans could achieve the lower sodium recommendation, it is predicted that 92,000 deaths and 66,000 strokes could be prevented every year. In addition, 99,000 Americans would be spared a heart attack and 120,000 would be spared heart disease every year.
Hypertension is a chronic condition resulting from elevated blood pressure. It is referred to as the silent killer because it doesn’t have noticeable early warning signs or symptoms.
Below is a table showing the different categories of hypertension. Our goal is to keep our blood pressure below 120/80. We can do this through lifestyle practices and medications.
||Systolic Pressure (mmHg) Top Number
||Diastolic Pressure (mmHg) Bottom Number
||Less than 120
||Less than 80
||140 or higher
||90 or higher
Your physician may consider prescribing medication when your blood pressure is “high,” at least 140/90. However, it’s important to recognize that high blood pressure is a threat to your blood vessels before it crosses that line. Blood pressure higher than 120/80 is associated with increased risk of some types of cardiac events. The area between normal and hypertension is called pre-hypertension and afflicts roughly 1 in 3 Americans; another 1 out of 3 Americans has hypertension.
Researchers aren’t sure how elevated blood pressure raises the risk of heart attack and stroke, but one possibility is that it may accelerate the clogging of arteries. The higher blood pressure may lead to damage in the blood vessel walls. The body attempts to correct this damage with plaque.
How to begin to adopt the new sodium guidelines?
- Limit meals eaten away from home and buy fewer processed foods.
- Read food labels, watching for words indicating sodium such as: monosdoium glutamate, onion salt, garlic salt, seasoned salt, catsup, BBQ sauce, soy sauce, and bouillon. Try low sodium versions of these items.
- Take the salt shaker off the dinner table.
- Add salt free vegetables, beans, or grains to high sodium foods (pre-packaged mixes or restaurant food). This will cut sodium and increase vegetable intake at the same time. For example: Add 1 pound of steamed broccoli to an order of Chinese take-out. Add a pound of carrots and cherry tomatoes to a pre-packaged dish (skillet dinner, rice, or pasta mix). Add 1 cup of brown rice to any quick-cooking, seasoned package of rice.
- Learn about herbs and spices and experiment with new ways to flavor your food.
food safety, healthy living, nutrition