When’s the last time you had your blood pressure checked? It’s important, you know. Even if you’re at a healthiy weight, you may be surprised to discover that your blood pressure (especially as we age) is higher than it use to be. And if you’re carrying around significant body fat it’s possible your blood pressure is elevated beyond a normal range.
Over the years we’ve heard a variety of theories about the consumption of salt and how it may or may not affect the general health of our hearts. One recent published study provides some of the strongest evidence we’ve been given to date that lowering the amount of salt in the diet can reduce the long-term risks of heart disease.
Dr. Nancy Cook and colleagues at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston studied more than 3,000 people who took part in a study of a low-salt diet and its effects on high blood pressure. The study showed that when people with borderline high blood pressure reduced their salt/sodium intake by 25% to 35%, they lowered their risk of total cardiovascular disease by 25%. This lower risk lasted for 10 to 15 years – that’s a long time and a significant decrease.
The current recommendation regarding salt intake is to consume less than 2,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day. This is about 1 teaspoon of table salt. Remember, this includes all salt and sodium you consume, including that used in cooking and found in canned and packaged foods.