Too much salt in your diet can cause several negative effects on your health, the primary of which is an increase in blood pressure. People at risk of developing high sodium related health problems tend to fall into the following four categories:
When too much sodium is consumed, the kidneys aren't able to keep up with filtering out the excess sodium in the blood. When that happens, the body begins to retain water to dilute the sodium, which increases the amount of fluid in the blood stream and surrounding cells. This increased fluid volume means harder work for the heart and increased pressure for the blood vessels. Over time, this can lead to a variety of health problems, including heart attack and stroke.
- Over age 50
- Have elevated blood pressure
- Have diabetes
- Are African American
Potassium has the opposite effect of sodium on heart health. While excess sodium in the diet can raise blood pressure, increasing potassium intake can help relax blood vessels, assisting the body in excreting sodium and lowering blood pressure.
Although we need far more potassium than sodium, the typical US diet is the opposite. On average, Americans consume 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Around 75% of the sodium consumed comes from processed foods. In comparison, the average American only gets about 2,900 milligrams of potassium each day.
It's no secret that high salt diets have negative effects on health. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine reported that eating a high sodium, low potassium diet increases the risk of dying from a heart attack. Data shows that the more salt people eat, the higher their death rate from all causes combined.
Lowering risk is simple:
Individuals with the highest sodium intakes had a 20 percent greater risk of death from any cause than individuals with the lowest sodium intakes. People with the highest potassium intakes had a 20 percent lower risk of dying than people with the lowest intakes.
- Eat more fresh vegetables and fruits, which are naturally high in potassium and low in sodium
- Eat less bread, cheese, and processed meat, as these and other processed foods are high in sodium and low in potassium
Here's a list of high-potassium, low-sodium foods you should consider adding to your diet:
|Food||Sodium (mg)||Potassium (mg)|
|White beans, cooked, 1 cup||11||1,004|
|Spinach, cooked, 1 cup||126||839|
|Plain yogurt, 1 cup||172||531|
|Sweet potato, cooked, 1/2 cup||36||475|
|Broccoli, cooked, 1 cup||64||457|
|Cantaloupe, cubes, 1 cup||26||427|
|Salmon, cooked, 3 ounces||49||369|
|Milk, low fat, 1 cup||107||366|
|Cherry tomatoes, 1 cup||7||353|
|Kale, cooked, 1 cup||30||296|
|Blackberries, 1 cup||1||233|
|Orange, 1 medium||1||232|
|Orange juice, 1/2 cup||2||222|
|Collard greens, cooked, 1 cup||30||220|
|Grapefruit, red, 1/2||0||166|
|Romaine lettuce, chopped, 1 cup||4||162|