The following is an excerpt from Should I Eat the Yolk? Separating Facts from Myths to Get You Lean, Fit, and Healthy by Jamie Hale. In this entry, the author discusses the still pervasive question concerning sodium intake from salt and its effect on blood pressure. Follow the link for more information and to purchase this informative book! After the excerpt, I discuss a few additional blood pressure questions, which both within and outside the realm of food intake, but pertinent to any individual searching for answers about salt intake and hypertension.
Is Sodium Bad for My Health?
Answer: Restriction of salt intake is not advised for the general population. To avoid excess salt, eat foods low in salt, eat high-sodium foods in moderation, and add moderate amounts of salt to foods. In some hypertensive people, the restriction of salt causes a decrease in blood pressure. In others, little or no change occurs. And in yet others, blood pressure may actually increase with salt restriction. Hypertensive individuals should seek medical advice with regard to sodium.
Investigation: Sodium is essential for life and is classified as a dietary inorganic macro-mineral for animals. Sodium is important for nervous system function and water balance. In general, humans eat significantly more sodium than required. For people with salt-sensitive blood pressure, overconsumption may cause health problems. However, underconsumption may lead to sodium deficiency, or hyponatremia. This condition can be fatal.
For many years, high dietary sodium has been implicated as a cause of hypertension (high blood pressure) and organ damage; yet careful analysis has revealed a weak relationship between sodium intake/excretion and blood pressure in the general population. Studies investigating the effects of dietary sodium reduction on blood pressure have shown only a minimal decrease in blood pressure and no effect on death or cardiovascular health. Although some people do experience large blood pressure changes in response to salt intake, these people are salt sensitive. These individuals experience an increase in blood pressure and body weight when switched from a low-sodium diet to a high-sodium diet. Salt sensitivity is influenced by a number of factors, including genetics, race/ethnicity, age, body mass, and diet, as well as some diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, and kidney dysfunction. – Jamie Hale 1