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Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

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5 Tips on Reducing Salt Intake

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Cutting down on salt may help lower your blood pressure. And most Americans need to cut back, because they get more sodium than they should.

The American Heart Association recommends getting less than 2,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium each day, unless you have high blood pressure or if you are at risk (if you already have hypertension, have diabetes or kidney disease or are African American). That's less than a teaspoon from all your meals and snacks.

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7 Steps to Tame Prehypertension

Is your blood pressure higher than it should be? Lower than the high blood pressure range, but still above normal? That's prehypertension, and it may be more serious than you think. Prehypertension is between 120-139 for the first number in your blood pressure reading, and/or 80-89 for the second number. Nearly 30% of American adults have prehypertension, according to the CDC. What's the risk? You're more likely to get high blood pressure (hypertension). Also, you may be more likely to have a...

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Start with these tips:

  • Break the habit of automatically reaching for your salt shaker. Table salt is about 40% sodium, according to the American Heart Association. So avoid adding salt to foods at the table.
  • Read the labels when shopping. Look for lower-sodium cereals, crackers, pasta sauces, canned vegetables, or any foods with low-salt options.
  • Eat fewer processed and packaged foods. Packaged, processed foods account for most of the sodium in people's diets. If you prepare your own food, you control what's in it.
  • At restaurants, ask about salt added to food. Many chefs will skip or cut back on salt if you ask.
  • If your restaurant posts the nutrition facts for its dishes, check how much sodium is in a serving. There may be lower-sodium options on the menu.

If you need to use salt while cooking, add it at the end. You will need to add less.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Suzanne R. Steinbaum, MD on January 27, 2015
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