Sodium is an essential part of everyone’s diet. It helps in maintaining the right balance of fluid levels in your body and contributes to the healthy operation of your muscles and nerves. However, this balance of fluid is tricky. Fluid retention spurred by an excessive salt intake might raise blood pressure. Additionally, a key health risk for heart attack, stroke, and heart failure is excessive blood pressure.
It is no surprise that a high intake of salt, also known as sodium, is linked to many health complications. Some of these health complications are directly linked to the heart. Continue reading to understand how high salt intake affects the heart and how you can lower your intake of salt.
How does salt affect your heart health?
Excessive salt in your bloodstream attracts water, which raises the overall amount of blood (volume) in the blood vessels. Blood pressure rises as more blood rushes through the blood vessels. It’s similar to pumping up the water supply to a water hose because as more water is forced through the hose, the pressure inside it rises.
High blood pressure over time may strain or damage the blood vessel walls and hasten the accumulation of gummy plaque, which can obstruct blood flow. The heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout the body, which wears it out. Furthermore, having too much water in your body can cause bloating and obesity.
As high blood pressure sometimes has hidden symptoms, it is referred to as the “silent killer.” It’s one of the main causes of heart disease, the leading cause of death around the globe.
Recent research reveals that specific elements may affect how your blood pressure fluctuates when you ingest salt. Some of these factors are age, ethnicity, race, weight, and the presence of other chronic diseases such as kidney diseases, diabetes, etc.
Eating less sodium can help slow the rise in blood pressure that comes with aging, even if you don’t already have high blood pressure. Furthermore, it can lower your chances of kidney disease, osteoporosis, stomach cancer, migraines, heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.
In addition to this, diets high in salt are often also high in calories and total fat, which increases the risk of obesity and all of its related health problems. Long-term use of salty meals can also acclimatize your taste buds to the flavor, which increases your propensity to choose saltier foods. So be mindful of your sodium intake, especially if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, or are at risk for either condition.
How to reduce salt intake
Foods that are produced, packaged or eaten in restaurants account for more than 70% of the salt we eat. About 15% of the salt in our diets is obtained naturally from food, while the remaining 80% is either added when we prepare or eat. Consequently, you’re probably consuming too much sodium even if you don’t use the salt shaker.
It might be challenging to keep your intake of sodium under control because the majority of it is already in your food when you buy it.
Here are some ways through which you can reduce your intake of sodium:
- Consume fresh fruits and vegetables as opposed to canned produce as they are often high in sodium due to their preserving qualities.
- Opt for fresh meats instead of packed or frozen meats as they have added sodium, especially meats like bacon and ham.
- Always read food labels. Many foods you may not have thought might have high levels of sodium.
- Avoid junk food as most of them are abundant in sodium and other components that further worsen your heart health. Components such as healthy fats, sugar, etc. are high in junk food.
Make sure to keep your sodium intake in check and be mindful of the foods you consume even if you have no heart conditions.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.
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