Salt Aggravates High Blood Pressure

And the mineral is hidden in many foods, experts say

Please note: This article was published more than one year ago. The facts and conclusions presented may have since changed and may no longer be accurate. And "More information" links may no longer work. Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.

SATURDAY, June 11, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- If you're trying to reduce your salt consumption to control your blood pressure, you'll have to do more than just keep the salt shaker off the table.

Many prepared foods, including soups, cereals, frozen dinners and canned vegetables, contain large amounts of salt, warn University of Michigan (U-M) Health System experts.

The result can be higher blood pressure in people with hypertension.

"Because hypertension is an enormous contributor to strokes, heart failure and heart attacks, that makes controlling it a great problem for patients and for physicians," said Dr. Lee Green, an associate professor of family medicine.

For example, canned soup can have nearly 1,000 milligrams of salt in a one-cup serving. Dietary guidelines say you shouldn't consume more than 2,400 milligrams of salt a day.

Even seemingly healthy foods can contain high amounts of salt. For instance, some varieties of raisin bran cereal have more than 350 milligrams of salt per cup. Many canned vegetables have 300 milligrams to 400 milligrams of salt in a half-cup serving, the researchers said.

Other examples of foods with high amounts of salt include salad dressings, prepared frozen meals, packaged rice dishes, and low-calorie products.

The U-M experts say you can reduce salt in your diet by: reducing the amount of processed foods you eat; carefully reading food labels to assess salt content; purchasing low-salt versions of frozen dinners and canned soups; using herbs and spices instead of salt when you cook; cutting your intake of salty crackers and snack foods; and eating fresh foods.

When you're at a restaurant, select steamed or grilled dishes. Avoid stir-fry dishes, soups and foods with salty dressings or dipping sauces.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute offers tips on how to reduce salt intake.

SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, June 2, 2005

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