What do Obesity and Sodium have in Common?

You may or may not have guessed it:

It’s High Blood Pressure!

As recently reported in the LA Times, high blood pressure is on the rise (no pun intended).

Using two sets of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994 and 1999-2004), the researchers came up with a standardized, age-adjusted figure.

That figure showed the percentage of Americans with high blood pressure has increased from 24.4% to 28.9%.

That’s an increase of almost 5%.

The current US population is a little over 300,000,000, so that’s an increase of 15,000,000 people that now have high blood pressure.

Amazingly in about a decade, 15 million more people are now in danger of heart disease.

What caused this increase?

“We get one guess as to a key reason: obesity.”

However, the study also discovered that the treatment and control of high blood pressure has improved. Treatment of the condition rose from 53.1% to 61.4% among those who have it; control of the condition rose from 26.1% to 35.1%.

Those numbers don't exactly warrant a declaration of victory over hypertension, but they're signs of progress.

That’s one connection of obesity to high blood pressure, but how does sodium correlate with high blood pressure?

“Ingesting too much salt is a prime cause of increased blood pressure,” said cardiologist Richard Katz, MD, director of the cardiology division of George Washington University.

Here are a few quick facts you might not have known about sodium:

  • More than 75 percent of sodium comes from processed foods
  • Less than 2,300 milligrams recommended, but most consume 4,000 milligrams
  • Less salt you consume, the less your palate craves
  • Control sodium when cooking, rinse and drain canned foods to wash away salt

Here are a few more suggestions on ways you can lower your sodium intake:

1. Use less processed foods. When cooking at home, you control how much salt you add to your food.

2. Switch to kosher salt. Because of its larger crystal size, a teaspoon of kosher salt contains almost 25% less sodium than ordinary table salt. It also tastes better.

3. When you’re cooking, taste as you go. You may need less salt than you think.

4. Shop for no-salt-added products. Read labels to compare sodium levels in processed foods, especially low-fat and fat-free foods which often contain more sodium than their regular counterparts.

5. Use salt where you want the biggest flavor punch. For example, sprinkling salt on top of home-baked bread provides a burst of salty flavor that isn't lost as it would be if was incorporated with other components and in larger amounts.

6. Take the salt shaker off the table. Because you’ve seasoned the food while cooking it, there should be no need to add more salt.

To test your own understanding of high blood pressure, the American Heart Association has a quiz.

Knowledge is power and when it comes to your health, the more knowledge the better, because

After all, it’s about a healthy lifestyle!

© Iowa Avenue

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