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Hypertension and salt intake are thought to be closely linked, as regions of the world where salt is consumed in the largest quantities appear to suffer from hypertension the most. The reason that salt causes hypertension is that it increases blood volume. This puts additional stress and strain on veins and arteries in the body, and leads to high blood pressure. It has been shown that people with high blood pressure who can reduce salt intake can achieve a reduction in blood pressure that’s similar to the effects of taking medication.
As with many dietary issues, salt should be consumed in moderation, but not eliminated completely. Hypertension and salt are linked, but sodium also performs a number of essential functions. For example, salt is used in the body to help keep blood pressure at a constant level, but only if it isn’t consumed in large quantities. It is thought that a daily allowance of 2400 mg is the maximum that should be consumed, although less is advisable.
Hypertension and salt are linked because of sodium’s ability to absorb water. In the body, a high salt concentration means that the blood will have a higher volume. This, in turn, forces the heart to work harder as it must move an increased amount of blood volume around the body. Not only does this put strain on the heart, but it can also damage the walls of the arteries.
There is some uncertainty as to whether hypertension and salt are directly, or indirectly, linked. Although people living in societies that eat a lot of salt are more likely to suffer from hypertension, there is a chance that this could be due to other issues with diet as well. There is no doubt that there are other factors involved in hypertension, including a genetic disposition, but salt is thought to play a major role.
It is also thought that some people are more sensitive to the effects of salt than others. People who are salt sensitive may be more susceptible to hypertension. They may also be more likely to suffer from other cardiovascular problems.
A person trying to reduce hypertension and salt intake should keep in mind that the recommended daily allowance includes all salt consumed in a day. This includes salt in ready-made meals and cooking ingredients as well as salt on the dinner table. Increasing exercise and generally living a healthy lifestyle is also important for reducing the effects of hypertension, as salt is not the only factor involved.