People with high blood pressure that isn't controlled by medications are likely eating too much salt, according to a new study to be published in the September 2009 issue of Hypertension.
Researchers from Australia had 12 people with resistant hypertension alternate between low and high sodium diets for a week each, with a two-week "washout" period between the diets.
An estimated 10 to 20 percent of people with high blood pressure have resistant hypertension, meaning they are taking three or more blood pressure medications but their blood pressure is still too high.
The average blood pressure of the study participants was about 145/84 mm Hg, well above normal blood pressure of 120/80 mm Hg.
On the high sodium diet, these hypertensive adults consumed 5,700 milligrams of sodium per day, and then switched to a low-sodium diet with only 1,150 milligrams of sodium daily. (The daily recommendation is 1,500 milligrams of sodium for people with heart disease.)
Going on the low-sodium diet reduced people's systolic blood pressure (top number) by an average of 23 mm Hg while their diastolic pressure (bottom number) dropped by about 9 mm Hg, bringing the average blood pressure reading to an acceptable 122/75 mm Hg.
Health experts say individuals with resistant hypertensive are eating a high salt diet that's causing them to retain so much fluid that standard drug treatments aren't helping them. Cutting dietary salt intake is very important for these individuals, as this study shows.
Salt or sodium chloride contains about 6,200 milligrams of sodium per teaspoon (5 ml) which means you need less than one-quarter teaspoon (just a pinch) of salt per day to meet your daily limit.
In addition to not adding salt during cooking or at the table, people with uncontrolled high blood pressure need eat more wholegrains, fruits and vegetables which are naturally low in sodium, and they need to pay close attention to food labels to help them choose lower sodium foods.
For a personalized, low-sodium meal plan, consider working with a registered dietitian who can help you lower your blood pressure and improve your overall health.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.