People want to know why their blood pressure is still high when they are on blood pressure medication. Many think that just taking blood pressure medication will fix the problem. Sometimes, maybe it does. However, if you stop taking the medication, usually the blood pressure goes back up. The problem isn’t fixed. Medications treat the symptoms and not the cause of high blood pressure. Too much sodium in the diet is one of the major causes of high blood pressure. This is why the doctor almost always recommends a low sodium diet to patients with high blood pressure or hypertension. You will need to lower your daily sodium intake to help lower your blood pressure naturally.
What is a low sodium diet?
A low sodium diet is limiting your daily sodium intake to 2000 mg (milligrams) of sodium or less per day. This is easier to accomplish if you know where most of the sodium comes from. Salt is the major source of sodium.
Salt is sodium chloride and is the main source of sodium in our diet. One teaspoon of salt is almost 2400 mg of sodium. In just one teaspoon of salt per day, you can easily go over your sodium allowed for the whole day.
Measure out a teaspoon of salt in your hand so you can see just how little a teaspoon of salt really is. For many this is a wake-up call. Most don’t measure salt, they just shake it on, not having a clue as to how much sodium they are really getting on a daily basis. This isn’t counting all the sodium in the other foods or meals for the day. When preparing meals, most cooks never measure salt. They just guess as they can always add more if needed. Over the years this can add up to more sodium than they realize.
There are 2 major sources of salt in the diet:
- Salt from the salt shaker.
- Salt from processed food.
The first step for a low sodium diet is to get the salt shaker off the table. Don’t cook with salt. Forget about using salt, period. It’s not easy but necessary for your health.
The second step is to eliminate processed food. Simply, think of processed food as any food that man has made. Actually, this is where most of the sodium in today’s diet comes from. Canned foods, (like soups and vegetables), boxed foods, (like quick dinners, cereals, crackers), condiments, frozen foods, deli meats or (any deli foods including salads), salad dressings, cheese, breads, snack foods pretty much all fast food and surprise, almost all low fat food is high in sodium. This list is just to give you an idea of where most of your daily sodium comes from. Even if you don’t use the salt shaker, there is so much sodium in processed food, it is easy to go over the daily sodium intake allowed.
So now what do you do?
You have gotten rid of the salt shaker, processed food, fast food, not eating out in restaurants (at least not often) and now you need to take the next step. You must learn to prepare your food from scratch. Prepare fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, fresh meats, etc. Do you see a pattern here?
Learn to season your food. Seasonings can also be a problem. Most folks don’t think of seasonings as being high in sodium, but most are very high in sodium. The first ingredient is usually salt and some seasonings can be almost as high in sodium as salt. Shop for salt-free seasonings and a salt substitute. Find seasonings that you like and use them. Be generous to increase flavor. This is important to enjoy a flavorful low sodium diet.
Lowering your daily sodium intake will help lower your blood pressure naturally.