• The Salt/Blood Pressure Debate

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    In response
    to last week’s canned
    soup post
    , reader Dave offered this comment: “I’d
    just like to point out that just as many Apple readers believe in
    literature that debunks the lipid hypothesis, there’s a camp
    that says there is minimal effect on blood pressure from salt. There
    are two sides to many stories!”

    We couldn’t
    agree more that nutritional (or general health) debates are rarely
    so simple as they’re made out to be. As long-time readers have
    probably noticed, we’ll mention salt recommendations now and
    then and generally try to keep our recipe suggestions fairly low
    in salt. We do tend to follow general salt recommendations. Blood
    pressure issue aside, high salt intake (as we mentioned last
    week) has been associated with osteoporosis, asthma, kidney disease
    and stomach cancer.

    But what about
    the salt and blood pressure issue? Does it really hold water (pun
    intended)? We’d say it has enough bearing to figure into our
    choices, and for some people, research suggests, it’s crucially
    significant.

    For years,
    scientists have researched the possibility of a “salt sensitive
    hypertension” that was the general result of a person’s
    genetic profile. In other words, salt sensitive peoples’ blood
    pressure is impacted more than the average person’s. To be
    precise, their blood pressure rises 10% or more in response to a
    salty meal.

    In 2006, researchers
    at the University of Virginia Health Center announced
    that they had traced the “sensitive” salt response to
    particular gene variations and that they were in the process of
    completing a genetic test for the salt sensitive profile. Salt
    sensitivity
    , researchers say, whether it accompanies chronic
    high blood pressure, negatively impacts the vascular system in the
    same way high blood pressure itself does. African-Americans are
    more likely to be salt-sensitive than people of other races in the
    U.S. The test, once it becomes readily available, will hopefully
    be a useful tool for people who want to learn more about steps essential
    for their individual health.

    But as for
    the rest of us, does salt matter for blood pressure? It’s true
    that many studies in this area, as in all areas, have their failings.
    And, it’s true that salt is just one piece (albeit an important
    one) involved in the process of fluid retention and its link to
    higher blood pressure.

    Read
    the rest of the article

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