Dietary Salt Intake a Contributing Factor to BP

Scientific studies have consistently demonstrated that a modest reduction in salt intake lowers blood pressure in people with hypertension and people with normal blood pressure, in all age groups, and in all ethnic groups, although there are variations in the magnitude of reduction.

Several studies have shown that a reduction in salt intake is one of the most cost-effective interventions to reduce heart disease and stroke worldwide at the population level. WHO recommends that adults should consume less than 2000 milligrams of sodium, or 5g of salt per day (27, 29).

Sodium content is high in processed foods, such as bread (approximately 250mg/100g), processed meats like bacon (approximately 1 500mg/100g), snack foods such as pretzels, cheese puffs and popcorn (approximately 1500mg/100g), as well as in condiments such as soy sauce (approximately 7 000mg/100g), and bouillon or stock cubes (approximately 20 000mg/100g).

Potassium-rich food helps to reduce blood pressure (30). WHO recommends that adults should consume at least 3,510 mg of potassium/day. Potassium-rich foods include beans and peas (approximately 1 300mg of potassium per 100g), nuts (approximately 600mg/100g), vegetables such as spinach, cabbage and parsley (approximately 550mg/100g) and fruit such as bananas, papayas and dates (approximately 300mg/100g).

Processing reduces the amount of potassium in many food products. Reducing population salt intake requires action at all levels, including the Government, the food industry, Non-Governmental organisations, health professionals and the public.

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