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Sodium-Rich Diets Affect Your Health in More Ways Than High Blood Pressure



The food at holiday brunches, buffets, dinners, and parties is frequently salty. A diet high in salt can cause high blood pressure in some people. This makes the heart work harder and raises the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, or kidney disease. Others are honored with qualities or physiology that allows them to eat food sources high in sodium while never seeing a knock in their blood pressure. If you fall into the latter camp, is it acceptable to indulge in salty holiday foods like ham, cheese logs, and other foods?

About 40% of salt’s weight is sodium. The transmission of nerve impulses, the contraction and relaxation of muscles, and the maintenance of fluid balance in the body all require some sodium. The average person requires less than 500 milligrams of sodium per day to survive; however, they consume approximately 3,400 milligrams, which is nearly seven times the amount required.

It appears that eating a lot of sodium in your diet is especially bad for your blood vessels. The endothelial layer, which is their innermost layer, is damaged. When needed, this thin sheet of cells helps blood vessels expand to increase blood flow. Atherosclerosis, the primary artery-clogging disease process that is underlying nearly all cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks and poor blood flow to the legs and brain, is set in motion by damage to the endothelial layer. Vascular dementia and kidney problems are additional outcomes of atherosclerosis.

Even if sodium doesn’t raise blood pressure, eating too much of it can:

  • Harm the heart. A lot of sodium can expand the size and thickness of the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber. This makes it harder for the heart to move blood around the body effectively.
  • Damage to the kidneys In lab animals, diets high in sodium make it more hard for the kidneys to filter blood. Additionally, high sodium intake raises blood markers of kidney damage.
  • Influence the mind. A diet high in sodium can “sensitize” sympathetic nervous system cells in the brain, which control the body’s “fight or flight” response. As a result of this sensitization, the body responds to stress with higher blood pressure than usual.

How much sodium is too much?

The typical American consumes approximately 12 teaspoons of salt per day, or 3,400 milligrams of sodium. The majority of this comes from the exceptionally handled food sources that we regularly eat. A slice of pizza, for instance, contains approximately 600 milligrams of sodium. More than 800 milligrams are delivered by a can of chicken noodle soup.

The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people under the age of 51 and those with high blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney disease consume 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, while those in relatively good health should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. A diet with less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day is one aspect of the American Heart Association’s definition of ideal cardiovascular health. While there is some disagreement regarding the appropriate upper daily limit, the majority of Americans should reduce their sodium intake right now.

New York City started this month requiring large chain restaurants to label salty dishes with more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, the maximum amount you should consume in a day. The salt-shaker-in-a-black-triangle “sodium bomb” cautioning is planned to push cafes toward less pungent and probably better dishes.

One way to improve cardiovascular health over the long term is to avoid sodium bombs. Ongoing proof proposes that a solitary high-sodium dinner can briefly impede vein capability. Therefore, avoiding high-sodium meals is important for everyone, even for those whose blood pressure is not sensitive to salt. Consuming fewer processed foods and consuming more fresh foods is necessary to reduce daily sodium intake. Cold cuts, many soups, and condiments like ketchup and soy sauce are examples of foods high in sodium.

It will be interesting to see if sodium labels in restaurants in New York City encourage customers to choose healthier options. During the holidays and beyond, almost everyone should cut back on sodium, regardless of whether they do.


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