Excess salt and hypertension

Unfortunately, most people ingest large quantities of salt in excess of the recommended intake, despite the fact that they do not salt the meals they cook and make the effort to never place the salt shaker on the dining table. Salt is found almost everywhere: in bread, cold meats, cheeses, canned food, cereals that you savor at breakfast and so on!

Increasingly, people are eating processed foods. Indeed, their production is constantly growing, the varieties of products offered never cease to increase and their price is affordable. Unfortunately, these products contain saturated fats, sugar and salt. The latter is the main source of sodium, the increased consumption of which is associated with the development of hypertension.

In addition, by changing their eating habits to make more room for processed products, people take fruits and vegetables out of their diet at the same time. The latter are not only rich in fiber, but they contain potassium, a mineral essential to the proper functioning of the arteries. Potassium mitigates the adverse effects of excess sodium on blood pressure and helps to lower it.

Recommended amount of sodium

First of all, sodium and potassium act together on the body, and they are both essential minerals for acid-base balance and normal cell function. To function properly, the body needs a little less than two grams of salt daily.

So one must not banish salt completely, but not abuse it either. Health Canada recommends a consumption between 1000 mg and 2300 mg per day. This amount may vary depending on age and health status. Salt should never be added to food served to children under one year of age. Moreover, the salt consumed must be iodized, because iodine is a compound essential to the healthy development of the brain in the fetus and young children, but also to the optimization of mental functions.

Recommended sodium daily intake based on age
AgeRecommended daily intakeMaximum
1 to 3 years1000 mg1500 mg
4 to 8 years1200 mg1900 mg
9 to 13 years 1500 mg 2200 mg
14 to 50 years 1500 mg 2300 mg
51 to 70 years 1300 mg 2300 mg
71 years or more 1200 mg 2300 mg

Source: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/nutrients/sodium/sodium-basics.html

How do you reduce salt intake?

It may be difficult to reduce salt intake simply because it has the property of enhancing flavors. One way to ingest less salt is of course to put less in the meals you cook. The less salty version of your favorite meals may seem a little bland at first, but you must persevere and soon you will learn to appreciate the subtle flavors of the ingredients in your plates. The other way is to reduce the consumption of processed foods because, as mentioned above, they are full of sodium.

Here are some simple tips to apply daily to gradually reduce your salt intake.

Season instead of salt

Use spices, herbs and other herbs to give taste to the meals you cook. You will discover flavors that will make you forget that you added less salt!

Do not put the salt shaker on the table under any circumstances
Stay away from prepared meals

Whenever possible, cook yourself the food you eat. Most of the prepared products contain large quantities of sodium.

Take time to read the labels

When a product with a “low sodium”, “sodium-free” or “no-salt added” option is available, opt for it. Try to purchase the products with the shortest list of ingredients.