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Hypertension – Paying attention to what you eat

Posted in: Heart Health 30 Nov, 2012

Sodium is important in our diet, but it’s easy to consume too much, which is isn’t good for the body. People with high blood pressure in particular should be careful to control the sodium levels in their diet. This is sometimes harder to do than we think, as many foods already contain sodium. Some food types can also appear like they are low in sodium, when in actual fact they aren’t.


Not many people are aware of the fact that cheese is so high in salt. Taste isn’t always an indication of whether a product has high sodium levels or not. Research has revealed that many cheeses have unnecessary high levels of sodium, even cheeses that are traditionally assumed to be ‘healthier’ options, such as cottage cheese.

Consensus Action on Salt and Health are currently advising that families cut down on their cheese intake as even a modest reduction in salt intake can reduce a person’s risk of high blood pressure and consequently avoid the associated complications. There are also low sodium options available that can be used as substitutes.

Canned foods

It’s advised that the average person should consume no more than 2300mg of sodium a day, however this is even lower for a person with high blood pressure. People with high blood pressure will likely be advised to cut their sodium intake to as low as 1500mg. Canned or pickled foods are notoriously high in salt because of the method in which they are preserved. For example, 100g of pickled olives can have a sodium level of over 1500mg.

Salad dressings

Most of us think of salads as weight-loss foods, and although they are a healthy food option, it is worth bearing in mind that using salad dressing can negate the health benefits of choosing salad. In moderation, salad dressings can be a nice way to spice up a salad, but using too much can increase the sodium levels of your meal significantly and can add unnecessary calories.

Gravies and soups

It’s winter so it’s more likely that well indulge in gravy and powdered soups, however these products are high in flavour for a reason and therefore you should check the nutritional information provided on the pack. Just because these products contain high levels of sodium, doesn’t mean that they should be avoided completely, but be aware of how often you use these kinds of products. You may also want to choose to use products with lower sodium levels.

Sun dried tomatoes

Sundried tomatoes are a good way to add flavour to most meals, including healthy salads, however, they should be used in moderation. One single 2g sundried tomato can contain more than 40mgs of sodium, which can add up if more is used to add flavour to foods.

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