Number 4. Salt or Sodium.
Doctors have long called for avoiding salt. This is because it was thought to be a contributing factor to high blood pressure. How so?
Well, salt can make the body store water. When this happens, blood volume increases and some people experience high blood pressure.
The remaining 75-80% of the sodium consumed by people in North America and Europe comes from processed foods. This shouldn’t come as a surprise!
In addition to being high in sodium, highly processed foods are high in high fructose corn syrup, chemical preservatives, starchy fillers, and other undesirable elements that contribute to poor health.
So it’s hard to say that the sodium in these processed foods is the only thing that causes high blood pressure.
In fact, the relationship between sodium and high blood pressure is unclear because many scientific studies on the effect of salt on hypertension have been inconclusive.
A 2011 meta-analysis of seven studies involving more than 6,000 people found that there is NO strong evidence that reducing salt intake reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes, or death.
Some studies have even shown that low-salt diets lead to a slight increase in health problems. There is a growing body of research questioning the long-term benefits of a low-salt diet.
The only time sodium can lead to hypertension is when there is an imbalance between salt and potassium in the diet.
Sodium and potassium balance each other. Too much salt depletes potassium, and too much potassium depletes salt.
Thus, an important choice here is to increase potassium in the diet. And it’s pretty simple – just add lots of fresh vegetables and fruits and you’ll have more potassium!
So instead of worrying about the sodium content of foods, eat organic, unprocessed foods, including vegetables and fruits.
Most vegetables and fruits are rich in potassium, which helps the body get rid of excess sodium and lower blood pressure.
So, if you have high blood pressure, just eat more potassium-rich whole foods. Cut down on salt and sodium-rich foods, and stay away from refined sugars and grains.
And, of course, avoid semi-finished products. If it comes in a can, box, bag, and has multiple ingredients, it probably won’t work for you.
Processed foods containing excess sodium include cheeses, frozen meals and pizza, french fries, deli meats, condiments such as ketchup and barbecue sauce, and pickles.
Canned foods like tomatoes, beans, and soups not only contain too much sodium, they also contain the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), which has been found to significantly increase blood pressure.
Foods high in potassium include avocados, zucchini, spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, pomegranates, coconut water, and bananas.