High blood pressure warning: The ‘hidden’ ingredient that could be raising your reading

Dr Manesh Saxena explains new blood pressure injection

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Also known as hypertension, it means that the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body is higher than it should be. The resistance to the blood flow in the vessels will also be higher. This puts extra strain on your organs including the blood vessels, heart, brain, kidneys and eyes.

It is widely understood that too much salt in the diet can raise blood pressure.

In fact, according to Blood Pressure UK, salt is the single biggest cause of high blood pressure.

This is because salt – which contains the mineral sodium – makes your body hold onto water.

When you eat too much, the extra water in your blood puts extra pressure on your blood vessel walls, raising your blood pressure.

Although we can make a conscious effort to avoid adding salt to our food, this isn’t actually enough.

The American Heart Association (AHA) warns that 75 percent of our salt intake is “hidden”.

It says: “Controlling sodium means more than just putting down the salt shaker.

“It also means checking labels, because up to 75 percent of the sodium we consume is hidden in processed foods like tomato sauce, soups, condiments, canned foods and prepared mixes.

“When buying prepared and pre-packaged foods, read the labels.

“Watch for the words ‘soda’ and ‘sodium’ and the symbol ‘Na’ on labels. These words show that sodium compounds are present.”

Foods that can be high in “hidden” salt include:

  • Bread products such as crumpets, bagels and ciabatta
  • Pasta sauces
  • Crisps
  • Pizza
  • Ready meals
  • Soup
  • Sandwiches
  • Sausages
  • Tomato ketchup, mayonnaise and other sauces
  • Breakfast cereals.

The NHS advises that adults should eat no more than six grams of salt a day (equivalent to 2.4g sodium), which is around one teaspoon.

But children aged:

One to three years should eat no more than 2g salt a day (0.8g sodium).

Four to six years should eat no more than 3g salt a day (1.2g sodium).

Seven to 10 years should eat no more than 5g salt a day (2g sodium).

11 years and over should eat no more than 6g salt a day (2.4g sodium).

The best ways to reduce blood pressure include:

  • Reduce the amount of salt you eat and have a generally healthy diet
  • Cut back on alcohol
  • Lose weight if you’re overweight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Cut down on caffeine
  • Stop smoking.

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