Role of Salt in Hypertension

Hypertension or high blood pressure has become a common problem for modern man. Modern lifestyle habits, nature of work, lack of exercise and poor dietary habits are some of the factors which are leading to hypertension in the present generation. A persistent high pressure increases the risk of a heart attack, stroke or congestive heart failure thus affecting the longevity of life. High blood pressure may even damage eyes and kidneys.

Hypertension or High Blood Pressure

Blood gets circulated throughout our body through arteries and veins. Our heart acts like a pumping machine, which collects the deoxygenated blood and supplies the oxygenated blood to the body. The increase in blood pressure is noticed during two conditions, first, during the increase in the volume of blood and second, when there is a constriction in the blood vessels. These two conditions lead to an elevation in the systemic arterial blood pressure.

How does Salt intake affect Hypertension?

Table salt or sodium chloride is one of the main constituent of our diet. Apart from adding taste to our food, it performs vital functions like water regulation in our body. It gets absorbed by our gastrointestinal tract and is excreted out by our kidneys. The excess salt is flushed out by the kidneys to maintain the balance in our body. But if the salt intake is too high and if the kidneys fail to cope up, the excess salt gets accumulated in our bloodstream. Salt draws more water by the process of osmosis and leads to water retention in the blood vessels. This excess volume of blood creates pressure on the walls of the blood vessels leading to hypertension.

Dietary Recommendations for Salt Intake

We require 500 milligrams of salt every day for the normal functioning of the body. Our sodium intake should be kept between 2-3 grams per day.

Richness of Sea Salt

Research shows that hypertension is noted more in the cases of people consuming table salt which has 99.9 percent pure sodium chloride. On the other hand, sea salt which contains about 95 percent of sodium chloride, 4 percent of potassium chloride and the rest being a mixture of vital minerals like magnesium, iodine and trace elements has found to be a better option for hypertensive patients.

Sea salt is manufactured by the evaporation of sea water and usually exists in the form of crystals. The sea salt has a refreshing taste and is lightly flavored than the table salt.

Our body requires a perfect balance between the minerals like sodium and potassium. In fact a higher intake of sodium accompanied with a lower intake of potassium may lead hypertension. So the intake of sea salt is advisable for hypertensive patients.

Suggested Measures to Reduce the Salt Intake

Salt intake has been directly associated with hypertension. Hence it is a common advice of all the doctors to reduce the salt intake. Slight modifications in our cooking practices help us to lead a better life. For example, salt should be added during the process of cooking and not after the cooking is complete. Actually food should be cooked along with salt for at least 10 minutes.

Processed foods, like chips, have a very high salt content. Salt is sprinkled over these items for better taste and this salt, in higher quantities, is harmful for our body. Even pickles and canned foods contain a higher content of salt. So it is advisable to avoid such processed foods or limit their intake.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Eating these fruits and vegetables is good for our health.

Natural food items cooked in a lesser amount of sea salt are ideal for hypertensive patients.