Posted on Jun 15, 2020, 5 p.m.
A study recently published in The American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension suggests that adding small amounts of beetroot or dietary nitrate to salty foods may help to prevent hypertension; findings are hoped to counter the effects of high salt diets and promote healthier eating habits.
According to W.H.O. most people consume at least twice as much as the recommended daily intake for salt, and unfortunately a diet high in sodium content but low in potassium can contribute to hypertension and increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Senior author and professor at the University of California, Theodore W. Kurtz, has expressed concerns about the poor dietary habits of Americans, and suggests that consuming more fruits and vegetables which contain potassium may help to decrease the harmful effects of sodium on heart health, but most people don’t always follow this advice.
According to Kurtz despite various educational campaigns geared towards consuming a balanced diet most people are not getting enough potassium, while the average sodium intake of Americans has been increasing in recent years. Due to these reasons it is important for researchers and health experts to find ways to prevent salt induced hypertension.
During this study salt sensitive rats were given small amounts of beetroot juice or dietary nitrate, which can be found in leafy and root vegetables such as celery, lettuce, spinach and beetroot. Findings showed that the beetroot juice and nitrate supplements were over 100 times more potent than potassium at protecting the animals from salt induced increases in blood pressure.
According to the researchers if these results can be successfully replicated in humans then simply adding a nitrate concentrate to salty foods may be a way to reduce salt induced high blood pressure naturally. Manufacturers of high sodium food products could also add extracts from nitrate rich vegetables to their products to counteract the hypertension inducing effects of too much sodium without having to decrease the salt content or altering taste of their products.
Findings may help to resolve the sodium induced issues that are partly to blame for the record numbers of cardiovascular diseases and strokes that are occurring around the globe, but it was noted that these results are limited by the short term nature of the study which is needed to be followed up with rigorous clinical human trials.
Those who wish to better manage their salt intake and boost their heart health can stand to benefit from consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables; they can also try to adopt heart healthy eating plans such as the Mediterranean diet or one created for hypertension such as the DASH diet. While the use of dietary nitrate to help manage hypertension may be useful, increasing intake of nutritious fruits and vegetables offers health benefits that extend beyond blood pressure management and heart disease prevention.
To better manage you salt intake try to limit the amount of junk food in your diet; check the Nutrition Fact labels of food products; try to eat mostly fresh meat and produce; pick low sodium products; try to rinse off canned foods containing sodium; try to eat at home more; limit the amount of salt that you add to food; and consider replacing salt with other spices such as black pepper, coriander, nutmeg, parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Materials provided by:
Content may be edited for style and length.
This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.