Do You Eat Too Much Salt?

We’re probably all guilty of eating more salt than we need. Whether or not we add salt to the food we cook, most of us eat processed food at some point during the day, which can contain vast amounts of hidden salt.

Among the many reasons too much salt is bad for our health is linked to our blood pressure. While some salt (around 200mg per day) is needed to help the maintain adequate nerve and muscle function, too much can put increased pressure on the blood volume inside cells, which pushes up blood pressure itself. Continuous high blood pressure is linked to an increased risk of several chronic conditions including heart disease, vascular dementia and kidney failure.

While getting on top of our salt consumption is vital, one way to offset excess salt in your diet is by eating plenty of potassium-rich foods. That’s because potassium, which is found inside cells, plays a vital role, with sodium, in regulating blood pressure. When there’s too much sodium inside your cells, potassium effectively blunts its effects, helping to process excess sodium out of the body via your urine. Potassium also plays a part in helping to relax the walls of blood vessels which helps lower blood pressure too.

While lots of food contain potassium, the highest levels tend to be found in fruit and vegetables. Watermelon is one of the richest sources of potassium, closely followed by sweet potatoes, spinach, bananas and beans and pulses. Ensuring you’re eating a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is a good place to start.

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