The Link between High-Sodium Diets and Heart Health

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Cheeseburger and french friesIt’s well known that too much salt can be bad for you. Diets high in sodium and low in potassium, the two primary electrolytes our bodies need, have been shown to negatively impact our health in numerous ways.

Too much sodium in your diet can increase your blood pressure and lead to a disease known as hypertension, or high blood pressure. High blood pressure can damage the blood vessels in your body and create health risks. It can even lead to more serious health problems, such as strokes or heart disease.

The Cardiovascular Link

It’s clear that too much sodium and too little potassium can raise your blood pressure and cause hypertension. What is not as clear is the direct impact that sodium has on cardiovascular disease. Research has been conflicting on whether sodium directly causes heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.

However, there’s no denying the impact that sodium has specifically on blood pressure. And when you consider that high blood pressure can be a major factor in causing heart disease, the importance of watching your sodium intake becomes apparent.

Potassium Ratio

While too much sodium can be a bad thing, research has shown that there may be an even more important factor aside from how much salt you eat. Potassium is an electrolyte that acts as a counterbalance to sodium. Just as too much sodium can cause your arteries to constrict, potassium intake helps them relax and stay flexible.

Maintaining a balance between the two is important for preventing hypertension. To help maintain this balance, salt intake should be reduced wherever possible along with increasing your intake of potassium-rich foods. These include potatoes, bananas, grapefruit and berries.

Managing your intake of these electrolytes can help lower your risk of high blood pressure, and may prevent more serious cardiovascular problems down the line.