Lower Your Salt Intake to Lower Your Blood Pressure

For many of us, it might be a habit to grab a salt shaker each time we sit down for a meal – sometimes before even tasting the food.

But, according to the Heart Failure Society of America, most of us eat way more salt than we should.

“A low sodium diet is important because it’s a key factor to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases,” says Muhanad Al-Zubaidi, MD, of the Premier Cardiovascular Institute, part of Premier Physician Network. “That’s related to the association between low sodium and the reduction of the blood pressure, which treat the high blood pressure problem." 

Even if you’re generally healthy, a low-sodium diet is still a good choice. In the long run, there’s always a chance of developing high blood pressure. So, making a choice to eat less salt is a good habit to start now. 

“A low sodium diet can reverse the problem of hypertension and high blood pressure,” he says. “And how that happens is reducing the salt will reduce the blood pressure reading. Then you’re reducing your high blood pressure, and that’s the definition of hypertension.”

Not Too Much

Two grams is the magic number to remember when it comes to how much salt is OK to eat every day, says Dr. Al-Zubaidi. 

Depending on how you keep track, that two grams is the same as 2,000 milligrams or about 1 teaspoon. 

This amount can help reduce your risk of future heart disease and also is recommended if you currently have cardiovascular disease. If you have advanced heart failure, talk with your health care provider about how much salt is right for you. 

If you do eat too much salt, you could face more than just high blood pressure. You could have other symptoms you notice first, including:

  • Overall discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling in your legs

What to Eat

Eating less salt doesn’t mean eating food with less flavor. It just means planning ahead and choosing flavorful options that include less salt.

Including more grains and vegetables – especially green ones – is a great way to feel full without adding salt to your diet, Dr. Al-Zubaidi says. 

Try to stick with fresh vegetables whenever possible and choose frozen vegetables as a backup. Canned vegetables often have a lot of salt already added to keep them fresh. If you do choose a canned option, make sure to read the label to keep track of your salt intake. 

Dr. Al-Zubaidi recommends using garlic powder as a flavoring for some vegetables, such as broccoli. It can add the extra taste you’re looking for without increasing your salt for the day. 

When choosing meats, stick with fresh lean meats and avoid processed options that already have salt added.

You can also look to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a dependable resource for low-sodium food options

Source: Heart Failure Society of America; U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources; Muhanad Al-Zubaidi, MD