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High blood pressure: Be aware of the ‘salty six’ if you want to lower your reading
High blood pressure has no clear cause, but several things have been shown to increase a person’s risk of developing the condition. One of these is eating a high amount of salt in your food. The more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure.
The UK government advises adults eat no more than 6g of salt a day – around one teaspoon.
Dr Naomi Fisher, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, advises to “weed out high-sodium foods by reading labels carefully”.
She continued: “Is is very difficult to lower dietary sodium without reading levels, unless you prepare all of your own food.”
But Dr Fisher warns to be particularly aware of what the American Heart Association has dubbed the “salty six”.
The “salty six” are common foods where high amounts of sodium may be lurking.
Breads and rolls
Cold cuts and cured meats
As well as being aware of these foods, Blood Pressure UK offers some handy tips for eating less salt.
The first is to not add salt when cooking. It advises: “Try adding different flavours and allow a little time for your taste buds to adjust.”
Secondly, avoid very salty flavourings. It explains: “Ready-made sauces, soy sauce, stock cubes and gravy granules can all be very salty, look out for low salt options or try some new flavourings.”
Adding herbs, spices and seasonings like chilli, pepper, ginger, lemon or lime juice may help.
Thirdly, the charity advises taking the salt shaker off the table, “so you’re less likely to be tempted”.
The charity also offers its own list of foods high in salt, and advises avoiding these foods and finding a lower-salt version:
Tinned, packet and chiller cabinet soups
Beef, chicken and vegetable stock cubes
Microwave and frozen ready meals
Breaded chicken products
Other ways to lower blood pressure
Alongside a healthy diet, regular exercise can help lower blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition.
The NHS advises: “Regular exercise can also help you lose weight, which will also help lower your blood pressure.
“Adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.
“Physical activity can include anything from sport to walking and gardening.”
Limiting your alcohol intake, cutting down on caffeine and stopping smoking can also help keep your blood pressure in check.