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Could eating too much salt cause high blood pressure?

Table salt, called sodium, is associated with increases in blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, you may be more sensitive to the effects of salt in your diet. You may also be more sensitive to salt in your diet if you are African American or elderly, or if you have diabetes.

The benefits of eating less salt. Reducing your salt may have the following benefits:

  • You will not be as likely to need blood pressure medicine.
  • If you already take medicine to control your high blood pressure, reducing your salt intake may allow you to take less medicine.
  • If you are a woman, decreasing your salt intake may also protect you from the bone condition called osteoporosis. How? Because your kidneys will get rid of less calcium. A higher level of calcium in your body means stronger bones.
  • If your heart has become enlarged due to high blood pressure, consuming less salt may help reverse some of the enlargement.

The first step to cutting back. Sodium may be in the foods you eat or drink, so remember to check food labels. Nutrition experts recommend you eat no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium or 6 grams of salt per day. This is equal to about 1 1/4 teaspoon.