….a warning to the world.salt

Millions die because of high blood pressure and salt

More than 7 million people die around the world every due to two silent killers: high blood pressure and salt. Yet, if everyone reduced their salt intake by half, more than 2.5 million lives could be saved, the World Hypertension League has revealed.

Silent killer – High blood pressure

How high blood pressure kills:

High blood pressure is a killer because it puts extra strain on your body and its vital organs. This excessive pressure quietly damages your blood vessels, heart and kidneys without causing any visible signs.

Because high blood pressure doesn’t normally produce signs or symptoms, the damage to your body builds up quietly over many years. In fact, many people don’t know they have high blood pressure until they have a stroke or a heart attack.

For more, please see: What is high blood pressure?

What you can do to avoid high blood pressure:

The first step to tackling high blood pressure is know if you have it or not. The only way to know is to have regular blood pressure checks (preferably at least once a year).

The second step is to change your lifestyle to be more blood pressure friendly. The good news is that these changes will also reduce your risk of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, dementia, kidney disease and diabetes too.

A blood pressure friendly lifestyle means:

  • eating less than 6g salt a day
  • eating at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  • being the right weight for your height
  • being active for 30 minutes five times a week

For more, please see How to lower your blood pressure

Silent killer – Salt

How salt kills:

The more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure. The higher your blood pressure, the more damage is being done to your blood vessels, heart and kidneys. Over many years, this damage will build up and may cause a stroke, heart attack or kidney failure.

Salt contains sodium, which makes your body retain to water and eating too much salt means that your body holds on to too fluid. This extra fluid raises your blood pressure. By eating less salt, your body will hold on to less water and this will reduce your blood pressure.

What you can do to reduce your risk: The first step is to become “salt aware” by reading food labels to see how much salt is in your foods.

The second step is to reduce your salt intake as much as possible by eating foods that are naturally low in salt. To help you do this, and to celebrate World Hypertension Day (17 May 2009), the World Hypertension League has issued a list of foods that are High, Medium or Low in salt (or sodium).

High in salt – cut down on these foods: Anchovies, bacon, cheese, salted chips, coated chicken, powdered sauces, noodle snacks, olives, pickles, prawn, salami, salted nuts, salted fish, sausages, smoked meat and fish, soy sauce, stock cubes, table sauces and canned meats

Medium in salt – eat fewer servings of these processed foods: Baked beans, cookies, breakfast cereals, bread products, burgers, cakes, pastries, cooking/table sauces, stuffed/canned pasta, meat pies, pasta sauces, pizza, ready meals, soup and sandwiches

Low in salt – eat more of these foods: Low-salt breakfast cereals, couscous, eggs, fresh fish, meat and poultry, fresh cheese, fruits and vegetables (dried, frozen or fresh), homemade bread/sauces/soups, mozzarella and ricotta cheese, pasta, rice, unsalted nuts, plain cottage cheese, plain popcorn, yogurt, peas, beans, lentils and seeds.

It is also important to avoid adding salt when cooking or at the table.

For more, please see salt and health information