Time to Revisit this Debate
My brother and I were talking about the controversial subject of Salt and Hypertension this past weekend.
He is currently on two low dose prescription medications for his high BP, and with that of course he has been told by his doctor to watch and limit his salt consumption.
But recently he has been finding more articles in the literature around this topic which suggest that Salt is not the villain in the high blood pressure plot that it has seemingly forever been made out to be.
Given my interest in finding natural approaches to controlling blood pressure issues, (and also my wish to help my brother find solutions which will aid him come off his medications someday), I decided to delve a little deeper into this topic and see if I could come up with an answer to this tantalizing question:
“Does Salt cause Hypertension?”
Do we really need salt in our diet?
Seems like a good place to start because if the answer is no, then no matter what role Salt might play in influencing blood pressure, by eliminating it entirely the whole issue would surely go away! But it’s not so easy as that – and for the following reasons:
- Virtually every food in its natural state contains sodium in varying amounts – yes, including fruits and vegetables. There are a limited number of fruits which actually contain zero grams of sodium, but trying to avoid all sodium would lead to a very restricted diet which would then not provide all the other essential nutrients the body needs.
- More importantly the body needs a certain amount of sodium to function efficiently. Sodium has several roles which are vital for this, namely:
● Helping to control nerve and muscle function through its electrical charge – in collaboration with Potassium and Chloride.
● Maintaining correct fluid balance – again in concert with Potassium to ensure a balance between intra- and extracellular fluid levels.
● Controlling the body’s blood volume and hence blood pressure. If too much sodium is detected in the blood system, the kidneys are sent a signal to excrete the excess in order to restore balance.
So, with that last statement it can be seen that Sodium is indeed implicated in the control of blood pressure… But does that mean it causes high blood pressure??
What Are The Experts Saying About This?
Well, when I started to look at the information, research and studies which are publicly available it soon became clear that Salt has indeed been given somewhat of a bad rap when it comes to its role in causing high blood pressure.
One article based on research which was published in Web MD, for example, indicated that reducing salt intake in the diet had only a very small effect on lowering blood pressure. In fact, it also concluded that driving the amount of salt ingested down too far may cause other health issues, such as elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels, both of which can lead to cardiovascular problems.
Dr Sam Robbins outlines in more detail what exactly is being found out about sodium and its effect on the body in the video clip below:
Yes! It Turns Out Salt is Good For You!
It appears that research is thus finally starting to show that the unhealthy reputation which salt has been given for decades is unwarranted.
However there are some important considerations to bear in mind when it comes to the type of salt you use and its effects on the body.
Dr Sam Robbins addresses these in the second clip from his video:
There is no doubt that sodium has a role to play in keeping blood pressure in balance. That is what it is designed to do, after all.
But the evidence is beginning to mount that it does not necessarily cause high blood pressure. In fact, in people with healthy kidney function, the body is well able to manage its sodium levels and, should salt consumption become excessive, to remove it without any difficulty.
But… It’s the type of Salt you consume which makes the difference!
Personally I have been using the unrefined Pink Himalayan Salt Dr Robbins recommends for years.
Just try it and see for yourself how much better it tastes than regular table salt. You’ll instinctively feel at once that it is healthier for you!!
So, for my part I do not believe that for most of us eating salt in our diet will lead to hypertension. But I would recommend that you just remember to follow a few simple rules.
- You be the one responsible for adding the salt to your cooking and your meals, so you can be sure to use the correct type of salt (as discussed above)
- You avoid at all costs the highly refined salt found in processed and packaged foods and many fast foods.
- You do not overindulge, because too much of anything is not a good thing.
Just use IT wisely and enjoy the flavour it adds to your meals!!
It’s Your Turn
What do you think? Do you subscribe to the belief that eating salt in your diet leads to High Blood Pressure? I welcome your comments and feedback below.