Sodium content and high blood pressure. My husband and I are trying to feed our family in a more healthy way. We understand that 4 grams of sugar is equal to 1 tsp., and that has helped us to select better foods juices. We try to keep no more than 5 grams of sugar per serving as our guidepost. However, sodium is a mystery. What is the guidepost for sodium content per serving, particularly keeping in mind blood pressure control. Thanks for any help you can provide.

Two of the major risk factors for heart disease are high cholesterol and high blood pressure (hypertension). Several factors can increase risk of hypertension including family history, sex, activity levels and diet. A diet that is high in salt, for example, might promote water retention, which causes the heart to have to work harder. In addition to salt intake, a diet that is high in fat, white sugar, and alcohol can increase risk of high blood pressure.

The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that sodium intake be reduced to no more than 2300 milligrams a day. The breakdown equivalents are as follows:
¼ teaspoon salt = 600 mg sodium
½ teaspoon salt = 1200 mg sodium
¾ teaspoon salt = 1800 mg sodium
1 teaspoon salt = 2400 mg sodium
1 teaspoon baking soda = 1000 mg sodium

Reducing sodium intake is a good start to reducing risk of high blood pressure. Select low sodium cheese and unsalted soups, nuts or seeds. Choose fresh, frozen, or canned foods that do not contain added salt. Many times “no added salt” will be listed on the label. You may also look for other buzz-words on the food label:

“Sodium free” = contains less than 5 mg of sodium
“Very low sodium” = contains less than 35 mg sodium
“Low sodium” = contains less than 140 mg sodium
“Unsalted/no added salt” = no sodium is added to normally salted foods

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