Sodium, More Than Just Blood Pressure

by Jo-Ann Heslin, MA, RD, CDN on October 22, 2015 · 0 comments

You may be one of the lucky ones. Your blood pressure is normal and eating salty foods has little effect on your numbers. A current research review paper may make you rethink your luck. It showed even for people with normal blood pressure, excess sodium can take its toll on other organs.

A high sodium intake can affect the inner lining of blood vessels making them stiffer and less able to dilate as needed. Even without high blood pressure, the left ventricle, the heart’s main pumping chamber can become enlarged and over time less able to pump as forcefully as a healthy heart.

A high sodium intake, over time, will reduce the ability of kidneys to function normally. This reduced kidney function can happen with only a mild, often overlooked, increase in blood pressure.

A high sodium intake can even affect the brain by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system which helps us respond to stress by increasing the heart rate, constricting blood vessels and raising blood pressure. Chronically triggering this stressful response takes a toll on vital organs.

There is a large amount of research that connects too much sodium with high blood pressure and increased risk for heart disease. But, now we are beginning to understand that too much sodium can cause damage in the body even when blood pressure does not go up.

Bottom line: Go easy on sodium. 

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