Cutting sodium is a good way to lower BP, but it certainly isn’t the only way. To complete the puzzle, you need to pay attention to your intake of some other minerals, too. Here’s the lowdown on minerals that matter if you have hypertension.
Yes, You DO Need To Cut Sodium Intake
You require under 500 mg of sodium a day to maintain normal nervous and muscular function and to balance minerals and water in your system. Having too much will worsen your BP problem and raise your risk of heart disease and stroke. On the other hand, cutting sodium/salt intake can lower the risk.
Which is why the World Health Organization strongly suggests you stick to consuming less than 5 gm of salt a day, which is equivalent to around 2 gm of sodium. See here for tips on cutting down sodium intake.
But That’s Not All: Other Minerals Matter, Too!
The right nutrition is as important as the things you cut out. Here are some other minerals and nutrients to watch out for, to help you beat high BP.
1. Include more potassium in your diet – it lowers blood pressure by balancing the sodium in your body. Foods rich in the nutrient include spinach, lentils, kidney beans, potatoes with the skin on, raisins, bananas, and watermelon. The WHO recommendation is 3510 mg of potassium a day, subject to approval by your doctor.
Caution: some medical conditions require you to cut down on potassium-rich foods. Always clear the new diet with your doctor.
2. Boost magnesium intake from foods like dark, leafy green vegetables, unrefined grains, beans, nuts, peas, and legumes. This mineral helps blood vessels relax and regulates blood pressure. According to the Indian Council for Medical Research, adults need 310 mg (women) or 340 mg (men) a day.
3. Get adequate calcium to allow for proper blood vessels contraction and relaxation. Eat healthy sources of the nutrient like curd, paneer, milk, and other dairy products; fish with soft, edible bones like sardines; and dark leafy green vegetables. The Indian Council for Medical Research recommends that men and women consume about 600 mg of calcium a day. Lactating mothers and pregnant women need to have 1200 mg a day.
Don’t Wing It!
Remember, you may also need some medication if your BP is very high or you are at risk of other problems like heart disease. Get yourself checked and see a doctor to get treatment to supplement these dietary fixes. Never self-medicate.