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High Blood Pressure & Salt

When you sit down to dinner do you or your family member automatically reach for the salt shaker? Even before tasting the food? Most people consume much more salt thatn their bodies require. American Heart Association guidelines recommend that salt intake for adults should be limited to 1,500mg or less daily.

Salt is an essential part of the diet for everyone, regardless of age. Not only does salt, also known as sodium chloride, enhance the flavor of food, it also help regulate the body's fluid balance and blood pressure. Consuming too much salt can cause high blood pressure and may also interfere with the effectiveness of certain blood pressure medications. Not enough salt can cause low blood sodium (hyponatremia) especially in older adults whose bodies do not metabolize salt as well as younger people.

Canned and frozen food supply far more sodium than the body requires and many diners automatically reach for the salt shaker even before tasting food. Read the labels on some of the canned foods in your kitchen, you might be surprised how much salt these products contain.

If you or a family member have high blood pressure, consider serving more low-salt/salt-free foods. Read lables carefully. Use salt substitutes, herbs and spices instead of regular salt.

Introduce low-salt foods to your family gradually. Salt-free foods are an acquired taste! Over time your older relative and other family members will become accustomed to less salt in their foods.

Over time your relative's blood pressure should decrease and your family will get used to eating foods with less salt. Although sodium is an important part of the diet, you may discover that food sprinkled with salt tastes much too salty.