If you have elevated blood pressure or if you are at risk for it, the amount of salt (sodium) you eat is important. Some sodium is needed in the body, but only in small amounts. Evidence shows that as sodium intake is reduced, blood pressure becomes lower. The daily goal for sodium intake is 1,500 mg, but one-fourth teaspoon of salt is nearly 600 mg sodium.
Lifestyle changes to improve blood pressure:
- Read the Nutrition Facts label for sodium content. Compare foods and choose those with less than a 20% Daily Value for sodium.
- Choose fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables which are naturally low in sodium. Strive for 5 servings of these foods each day.
- Eat more homemade foods and omit or cut back on added salt, cheese, condiments, sauces, and seasonings.
- Skip cooking with salt. Try salt-free seasonings such as pepper, lemon, garlic, or onion. Beware of blended spices, like lemon pepper, which may have salt added.
- Eat fewer processed foods.
- Increase physical activity to your ability. Walking is a great way to start. Discuss an exercise program with your health care provider.
- Weight loss can also improve your blood pressure.
- When eating away from home, ask that salt not be added to your food. Ask for sauces and dressing “on the side.”
How to understand your blood pressure: