They go on to explain how this electrolyte imbalance is the dominant environmental insult ultimately leading the vast majority of people to develop high blood pressure. They start off their review by noting that primary hypertension accounts for about 95% of all cases. Furthermore, primary hypertension is virtually unknown in isolated human population groups that add little or no salt to their food and have daily dietary sodium intakes of no more than 50mmol (or 1150mg sodium). These isolated population groups all eat minimally processed foods that are also high in potassium by American standards.
The INTERSALT study showed that blood pressure rises with age in all human populations that consume about 2300mg of sodium daily or more. In all these salt-added populations, the vast majority of people develop hypertension sooner or later. Much of this review deals with pathological mechanisms whereby a high salt and low potassium diet alters the electrolyte balance in the vascular smooth muscle cells and other tissues leading to all the observed abnormalities seen in hypertensive patients. They also do a nice job of tying in the mechanism of action of pharmaceutical agents that lower blood pressure largely because they partially correct some of the metabolic abnormalities caused by an unnatural sodium/potassium ratio seen in modern diets. Of course, they note these drugs can often create other undesirable metabolic effects so they should not be viewed as the solution to the growing prevalence of hypertension worldwide. Rather they suggest that the solution would be to adopt the electrolyte guidelines set forth in the Institute of Medicine’s report on the nutritional requirements for electrolytes. Just to review, this report said sodium intake should be less than 1,500mg of sodium daily for those under 50y and even less for older people. At the same time the report stated Americans need to roughly double their intake of potassium. The authors note that this increase in potassium needs to come from fruits and vegetables and other unrefined foods rather than from potassium chloride because excess chloride contributes to hypertension as well as too much sodium.
Better blood pressure, better heart health and better health for the rest of your life!
All the right stuff
Unsalted nuts & seeds
Whole grains without added salt
Condiments with little or no added salt
Low-sodium whole grain bread
Canned foods without added salt
Fat-free milk, yogurt and ricotta cheese
All the wrong stuff
Cheese including most nonfat cheeses
Cured meats, imitation seafood, soy “meat”
Salty snack foods
Canned foods with added salt or “sea salt”
Condiments, sauces, dressings
Nearly all restaurant meals
Most frozen and boxed convenience meals
Bread, packaged cereals, refined grains
If you want to lower your blood pressure, get your cholesterol down to a safe level and stay healthy for life, there is good news! You only need to follow one sensible diet.
An overwhelming amount of scientific evidence points to our diet and activity level as being the keys to better health. The bottom line is that you don’t need special drinks, supplements or designer foods. Simply limit the amount of refined carbohydrates, sodium-laden processed foods, and foods high in fat (especially saturated and trans fat) that you eat
Replace these unhealthy food choices with a low-fat, low-sodium diet based on fruits and vegetables, whole grains and a modest amount of seafood and fat-free dairy items .
For more information, consult www.nhlbi.nih.gov for the DASH diet.
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world-famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. After a decade in food service for Hyatt Hotels, Judy launched Food and Health Communications to focus on flavor and health. She graduated with Summa Cum Laude distinction from Johnson and Wales University with a BS in Culinary Art, holds a master’s degree in Food Business from the Culinary Institute of America, 2 art certificates from UC Berkeley Extension, and runs a food photography studio where her love is creating fun recipes.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science and Dietary Guidelines to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.