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To Improve Blood Circulation, Lower Salt Intake

A study conducted by CSIRO researchers found that a minimal intake of 3.8 grams of salt, which is equivalent to the salt content of most meals, can affect blood circulation.


Salt is an essential food ingredient needed to keep the body functioning properly. Sodium, a major extracellular ion, is needed by the cells to regulate mechanisms such as muscular contraction and water-base balance. In other words, the nutrients in salt helps maintain the right balance of water and other fluids in the body, influence the relaxation and contraction of muscles, and transmit nerve impulses.

The kidneys are responsible for maintaining the balance of sodium in the body in order to maintain optimal health by excreting it as urine. But these tiny organs that’s just as small as a common computer mouse has its limitations; it can only take a maximum of 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt in a day. Salt that fails to be excreted will start to accumulate in the blood and this could ultimately result to higher blood volume. In effect, the heart will have to work harder in order to properly circulate blood through the blood vessels. This results to higher blood pressure. Diseases linked to this condition are chronic kidney disease, cirrhosis, hypertension, congestive heart failure and a few others.

Immediate Effects of Sodium to Blood Circulation

A study published in the American Journal of Nutrition showed that salty foods can start to adversely affect blood circulation 30 minutes after consumption. The researchers found that eating foods containing 3.8 grams of salt of can inhibit the ability of blood vessels to expand and added that blood flow mediated dilation is reduced within 30 minutes after the meal.

The researchers from CSIRO, or the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, in Australia reported that eating meals rich in sodium can reduce the ability of the blood vessels to dilate by 50 percent compared to low-sodium meals. But they added that normal blood vessel function was restored after 2 hours. The lead author of the study, Kacie Dickinson, said that they were surprised to see a similar response to eating foods rich in saturated fats which has been known to damage the blood vessels on a long-term basis.

In the study, the researchers gathered a group of sixteen healthy volunteers and observed the postprandial effects of high salt intake to the endothelial function of study participants which, if impaired, is linked to a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and hypertensive disorder. The researchers found that eating either high or low sodium meals can affect the natural ability of blood vessels to expand.  But meals higher in sodium can result to a more significant change.

Food Sources

Knowing the foods that are high in sodium content is the best way of keeping an eye on your sodium intake. Some of the foods richest in sodium are kelp, garbanzo beans, some fruits, dry lotus stems, corn meal, chick peas, cheese, celery, canned foods, buttermilk, black-eyed beans, beets and meats. Fast foods like fries and burgers are high in salt.  People with hypertensive conditions needs to be more wary about their sodium intake due to the risks involved. Healthy people, on the other hand, need to take as much care to prevent the development of the disease. Though sodium from salt offers the body numerous health benefits, the adverse effects of too much sodium are enough reason to read food labels and be well-educated about how to maintain a healthy balance of sodium in the body.

Detecting High Sodium: how to Read Food Labels

Not all foods rich in sodium taste salty. A typical bagel, for example, has 532 milligrams of sodium. So it is always important to read food labels and scan through the Nutritional Facts to know if the food contains more sodium than what your body needs. If you are reading the ingredients, some of the substances that contain sodium are monosodium glutamate, sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite, sodium alginate, disodium phosphate, baking powder and baking soda. These ingredients are present in most processed goods.

Some foods also have sodium labels on them. “Unsalted” or “no salt added” means no salt was added in the processing of these foods. But these foods may still have sodium in them. “Light” or “light in sodium” means sodium content has been reduced by 50 percent to the regular variety, “low sodium” products contains 140 milligrams of sodium at most, “very low sodium” indicates 35 milligrams of sodium per serving, and “sodium free” means the food has less than 5 milligrams of sodium.

Healthy and Natural Alternative to Salt

It is possible to supply the body with sodium without taking too much salt. Sodium is a natural occurring nutrient in plants. So using certain plant ingredients like celery and beans in cooking can give dishes a salty taste and at the same time give you just the right amount of sodium. Organic sea salt, on the other hand, can be a better and healthier alternative.

Table salt and organic sea salt has the same nutritional value both consisting of two major mineral components namely sodium and chloride. They contain similar amounts of sodium but the difference primarily lies in the way there were processed. Table salt is usually mined underground and it needs more processing to remove harmful trace minerals and is commonly fortified with iodine. Chemicals are also added to table salt to avoid clumping. Organic sea salt is harvested from evaporated sea water. It undergoes minimal processing and only contains minimal amounts of trace minerals. Sea salt also naturally contains iodine. But regardless of where you are getting your sodium from, it is always important to keep it at a minimum.

Natural Ways to Lower Risk of Hypertension and CVD

The risk factors of hypertension and cardiovascular disease are high alcohol intake, excess weight, lack of exercise, high sodium intake, and high blood cholesterol level. So in order to avoid hypertension, it is only appropriate to keep an active lifestyle, maintain a diet that’s low in sodium and bad cholesterol, keep a healthy body mass index and keep liquor to a moderate. These habits do not only keep the circulatory system health, but they have other health benefits like reduced risk of diabetes, obesity and chronic diseases.


Sources

foodnavigator.com
mayoclinic.com
lifestyle.iloveindia.com
associatedcontent.com
mayoclinic.com

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