Learn how nutrition can impact your overall health and make healthy lifestyle choices.
How Does Sodium Affect Blood Pressure?
Sodium is a major component within many of our everyday foods, but too much sodium can have deteriorating effects on our health if it is not natural. According to a 2017 study done by the CDC, 71% of the sodium in our foods comes from restaurant and processed foods, not from the salt we add when we cook.1 Natural sodium intake should be limited to 400-600 mg daily in a whole-food, plant-based diet.2 The appropriate total sodium intake to reduce blood pressure is around 1500-2300 mg daily.3 An easy way to detect high sodium in a product is if the sodium in a label is greater than its calories.3 Remember that too much sodium may take a toll on your body and lead to hypertension and other concerning health conditions!
Potassium Can Improve Your Blood Pressure
With greater potassium intake, blood pressure decreases.3 Fruit, vegetables, and legumes are high in potassium. It has been found that plant-based diets can reduce our blood pressure. The explanation for this is that the more potassium is consumed, the more sodium is released through urine. Potassium will reduce the tension in blood vessels, consequently lowering one’s blood pressure.4 Potassium is a major nutritious component that we need to include in our everyday diet to maintain healthy blood pressure.
What Happens With High-Fat Intake?
Fat takes up a considerably large amount of the nutritional value in animal-based foods. For example, chicken has a fat content of 23%, beef 29%, and salmon 52%.3 Consuming an excess amount of fat can raise cholesterol and increase the risk for heart disease and certain cancers. 5
Why is this? When consuming high amounts of fat, the fat content enters our cells, and excess fat can prevent glucose from entering the cell. Glucose provides our body with energy, and when glucose cannot enter our cells, it can cause our blood sugar levels to increase.3 Too much fat is not adequate to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle; therefore, it is important to have a balanced diet.
Common Misconceptions About Soy
Animal-based foods are filled with carcinogens, and plant foods conversely contain many nutritional components such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. However, there are some misconceptions behind certain plant-based products, like soy. Some of the most common questions regarding soy are if it will increase the risk of breast cancer, if it causes breast development in men, and if it’s unsafe to take thyroid medication. The answer is no for all of these concerns, except soy can only be consumed with thyroid medication after 4 hours.3
If the forms of soy you consume in a plant-based diet are minimally processed, it is considered healthy and adequate for a plant-based lifestyle. Examples of minimally processed forms of soy include soybeans, edamame, soy milk, tofu, tempeh, and miso.
It is important to be aware of specific food items that can improve or deteriorate blood pressure and cholesterol. Misconceptions behind what is and is not beneficial for your health can be challenging to learn; however, there are many resources available at Dr. Lifestyle Clinic that can guide you in the right direction towards a more healthy lifestyle!
- Harnack LJ, Cogswell ME, Shikany JM, et al. Sources of Sodium in US Adults From 3 Geographic Regions. Circulation. 2017;135(19):1775-1783. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.116.024446
- Why salt-free? Naked Food Magazine. Published May 10, 2019. https://nakedfoodmagazine.com/why-salt-free/.
- Class 2 Empowered by Food. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. https://pcrm.widencollective.com/portals/yfgoupfc/fightcovid19?ceid=2062442&emci=8006260f-a1c7-eb11-a7ad-501ac57b8fa7&emdi=5ec89ff1-cac7-eb11-a7ad-501ac57b8fa7
- How potassium can help control high blood pressure. American Heart Association. Updated October 31, 2016. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/how-potassium-can-help-control-high-blood-pressure#:~:text=The%20more%20potassium%20you%20eat,80%20who%20are%20otherwise%20healthy.
- Fat: the facts. NHS. Published April 14, 2020. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/different-fats-nutrition/#:~:text=Too%20much%20fat%20in%20your,the%20risk%20of%20heart%20disease.ed April 14, 2020.