In ancient times, salt was so valuable that people used it for currency. It was used sparingly to season and preserve food. Today, we have an embarrassment of riches, and modern humans consume more salt than is good for them. The relationship between sodium and high blood pressure is fairly straightforward. Sodium attracts water, and the higher the sodium intake, the greater the amount of water in the bloodstream — which can increase blood volume and blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition in which blood pressure stays elevated over time. That makes the heart work harder, and the higher force of blood flow can damage arteries and other organs, including the eyes, brain, and kidneys.
Tips for Reducing Sodium
- Buy fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables with no salt or sauce added.
- Add spices to your food. Instead of salt, try coriander, black pepper, nutmeg, parsley, cumin, cilantro, ginger, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, tarragon, garlic or onion powder, bay leaf, oregano, dry mustard, or dill.
- Reduce portion size; less food means less sodium.
- Compare foods that are high in salt (like processed meats and sauces) but also compare the packaged foods that you eat often (like bread and breakfast cereals). Although these foods contain moderate amounts of sodium, they can contribute a lot of salt to our diets which can add up quickly.
- Restaurant foods and meals are often high in sodium. One entree may be at or above your daily limit.
- When possible, purchase fresh poultry, fish, pork, and lean meat, rather than cured, salted, smoked, and other processed meats.
- Use black pepper as seasoning instead of salt. Try it on pasta, scrambled egg, pizza, fish and soup.
- Add fresh herbs and spices to pasta dishes, vegetables and meat. Try garlic, ginger, chilli and lime in stir fries.
- Make your own stock and gravy instead of using cubes or granules, or look out for reduced-salt products.
- Try baking or roasting vegetables such as red peppers, tomatoes, courgettes, fennel, parsnips and squash to bring out their flavour.
- Make sauces using ripe tomatoes and garlic.