According to a four-week study from National Institutes of Health released last week, cutting salt intake in half can decrease the chance of developing high blood pressure as we age. The study involved 412 people who were divided into two groups, both of which were put on low-salt diets for 14 weeks. One group was put on the average American diet, with foods like roast beef, ham and turkey, along with high-fat sweets and some fruits and vegetables. The other group was fed a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. But both diets contained the same amount of salt. The group that ate the produce-rich diet saw a dramatic reduction of 8.9 points in systolic pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) and 4.5 points in diastolic pressure. But even those on the typical American diet saw their blood pressure drop. The quickest way to reduce sodium intake is to cut down on processed foods: snack foods, canned vegetables, but people should also remove the salt shaker from the table, flavour foods with spices instead of salt, and check food labels.
According to these findings, cutting salt appears to be an important strategy to lower blood pressure. However this study confirms important findings of a longer study that showed the DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) of increased fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy products works to lower blood pressure and that this effect is far more significant than the short-term impact of sodium restriction. So if you find it difficult to kick the salt habit, boost your intake of fruit and vegetables to 8 to 10 servings per day and be sure to consume 2 to 3 servings of low fat dairy products.
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