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May 2024

Be Smart About High Blood Pressure: The Sodium-Potassium Link

Sodium and potassium are two key minerals when it comes to high blood pressure.  Sodium is linked to high blood pressure which increases the risk for heart disease, stroke or kidney failure.  Potassium may help offset the adverse effects of sodium on blood pressure!  To improve blood pressure, one key is to increase potassium and decrease sodium in your diet.

The Sodium/Salt Challenge
The craving for salt varies from one person to the next.  The good news is that it can be changed.  A gradual reduction in sodium is the best, as it allows time to adapt to the change.

Decreasing sodium intake can be challenging due to budget, need for convenience and desire for flavor and taste.

The Food and Drug Administration has developed guidelines for the food industry to gradually reduce the amount of sodium in food.

While most sodium is from processed foods, there may be some surprising sources.   To help you identify where your sodium is coming from, check the list of foods below that contribute the most sodium in the US diet.

American Heart Association - “Salty-Six”
Foods to Minimize

1) Breads and rolls   4)  Cold cuts and cured meats
2)  Pizza    5)  Burritos & Tacos
3)  Soup   6)  Sandwiches

Optimize Potassium to Off-Set Sodium
Potassium is linked to sodium in reducing high blood pressure.  The more potassium that is consumed, the more sodium is excreted from the body.  Potassium also helps the blood vessel walls relax, in turn reducing blood pressure.

Increasing potassium is easier than reducing sodium.  Many foods are rich in this key nutrient.

Boost Potassium
Choose plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes and low fat dairy products, especially these foods:
º Baked Potato º Plain NF Yogurt º Spinach º Cantaloupe º LF Milk º Tomato º Banana º Orange º Broccoli

The Right Balance is Key
Try to limit sodium to 1500 mg or less each day.  The goal for the senior lunch is a maximum of 760 mg of sodium per day. Check the nutrition facts food label to determine the sodium in foods you may buy and be mindful of the portion size.

Increase potassium to approximately 4700 mg daily from potassium-rich foods. The goal of the senior lunch is an average of 1550 mg of potassium.  Do not take potassium supplements unless advised by your physician. Check with your healthcare provider before increasing dietary potassium, especially if you have kidney disease.


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