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The DASH-Sodium Study and Tips for Eating Less Salt

The DASH-Sodium Study

A scientific research study called "DASH-Sodium," examined the effect on blood pressure of a low sodium diet as participants followed either the DASH eating plan or a typical American diet.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of the two eating plans and then followed for a month at each of three sodium levels. The three sodium levels were:
  • A higher intake of about 3,300 milligrams per day (the level consumed by many Americans)
  • An intermediate intake of about 2,400 milligrams per day
  • A lower intake of about 1,500 milligrams per day.
Results showed that reducing dietary sodium lowered blood pressure for both eating plans. At each sodium level, blood pressure was lower on the DASH diet than on the other eating plan. The biggest blood pressure reductions were for the DASH diet at the sodium intake of 1,500 milligrams per day. Those with hypertension saw the biggest reductions, but those without it also had large decreases.
Those on the 1,500-milligram sodium intake eating plan, as well as those on the DASH diet, had fewer headaches. Other than that and blood pressure levels, there were no significant effects caused by the two eating plans or different sodium levels.
DASH-Sodium shows the importance of a low sodium diet for hypertension -- whatever your eating plan. But for a true winning combination, follow the DASH diet combined with a low sodium hypertension diet.

Preparing Meals With Less Salt

The following suggestions can help you prepare meals that are low in sodium:
  • Add less salt at the table and in cooking. Reduce the amount a little each day until none is used. Try spices and herbs instead.
  • Cook with low-salt ingredients. Remove salt from recipes whenever possible. Rice, pasta, and hot cereals can be cooked with little or no salt.
  • Use fewer sauces, mixes, and "instant" products. This includes flavored rice, pasta, and cereal, which usually have salt added.
  • Rinse salt from canned foods.
  • Limit your consumption of smoked, cured, or processed beef, pork, or poultry.
(Click Salt and High Blood Pressure for more tips on reducing your sodium intake.)
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