Does sodium increase your blood pressure? It depends on your genes…
Sodium in your diet can be a major contributor to high blood pressure, but how much of an effect it has is dependent on genetic makeup. This is because salt sensitivity is largely determined by your genes, one of which is the ACE gene.
The ACE gene functions in the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) as a key enzyme involved in blood pressure regulation via control of sodium reabsorption in kidney. Some people have a variant that leads to a less active RAS system, lower sensitivity to sodium and therefore lower risk for hypertension, while others have a risk variant that leads to a more active RAS system, higher sensitivity to sodium, and higher risk. Over 50% of Africans and Caucasians and about 40% of Asians carry the risk variant and need to be more careful about their sodium intake.
Sodium is one of the overabundant nutrients in the modern Western diet. GB HealthWatch encourages you to familiarize yourself with sodium levels in common foods. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting sodium intake to 2,300 mg per day while the American Heart Association recommends 1,500 mg, or about a ½ a teaspoon of table salt, per day.
Foods that can lower blood pressure are rich in potassium, calcium and fiber, while low in cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium. Potassium causes increased excretion of sodium in the urine. Potassium-rich foods can be particularly beneficial for balancing high sodium in your diet.
You can get an accurate evaluation of your current sodium and other nutrient intake by using the HealthWatch 360 App or web tool. You can also track your blood pressure and see if it correlates with your sodium intake to discover clues as to whether you are salt-sensitive or salt-resistant.
To eating right for you,
* HealthWatch 360 app (for both iPhone and iPad) is free to download from the App Store.