Salt can be the culprit behind more than high blood pressure

It's important to keep an eye on your salt intake for a variety of reasons.

Many people have no idea they have high blood pressure until they go to a doctor and are told of their condition. High blood pressure is a silent killer due to the fact there seems to be very few symptoms (sometimes none) that one can feel.

High salt consumption can lead to reduced function of the inner lining of the blood vessels. Therefore, a person is at higher risk of infections and blood clots. Another complication from too much salt in the diet is the hearts main pumping chamber. It grows thicker and eventually it won’t pump as forcefully as needed.

According to Dr. William Farquar from the University of Delaware, too much salt in your diet will sensitize neurons in the brain, causing a painful response to skeletal muscle contractions.

Cutting down on your salt consumption is important for everyone. On average, a healthy person should have just a little over 2000 mg of salt per day. Unfortunately, the average American is getting close to 3600 mg of salt per day due to eating prepackage foods and adding salt to their foods. Try some of these practical tips for reducing salt intake:

  • Never add salt at the table.
  • Check the labels of condiments and convenience foods, many of which are loaded with salt.
  • Check the labels of all processed foods you may eat such as sauces, canned vegetables and cereal. If they’re high in sodium, look for low and reduced sodium brands.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables: among other benefits, the potassium contained in these food items helps to balance the effect of salt.
  • Try not to cook with salt. If you must add salt, add at the end of your cooking process because you will find you’ll use less.

As we approach the growing season, think about the delicious flavors of fresh vegetables and fruits. We can always grow herbs indoors all year round, and they can be a great alternative to salt as a meal additive.

For more tips on health and nutrition, visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

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