Improve Blood Pressure – Wait For Government Or DIY?

We have been discussing how Finland was the first to show a dramatic change in a nation's stroke and cardiovascular disease (CVD) rate by improving blood pressure through diet. An article from 2005 (1) by some of the Finnish researchers was an excellent review of the literature on the role of sodium and potassium to improve blood pressure.

The crux of the article was to make suggestions for governments to change regulations. The regulations should encourage food manufacturers to substitute other salts for sodium salt as a preservative. This change was what resulted in the biggest change in diet and health in Finland. In other industrialized nations this would also result in improving blood pressure, and reducing the stroke and cardiovascular disease rates.

IOM Report

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National Academy of Medicine (formerly Institute of Medicine) logo

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report in 2010 (2, 3) that calls for a solution similar to that in Finland. They call for food manufacturers and restaurants to reduce the sodium in their food products. The reduction is to be slow, so consumers do not notice the gradual change in taste of the food.

It is a step in the right direction. But this solution will take many years to get results, just as it did in Finland. It also is only half a solution. It ignores the half that can make an even bigger difference – an increase in potassium in the diet.

As shown in the Finland study, and in multiple other studies since, the change in the potassium to sodium ratio is all important. Potassium is not addressed in the IOM report, although IOM has addressed it in other reports.

But by changing food manufacturing processes, the increasing amount of sodium in the diet may be stopped. An important part of the IOM report is a graph showing just how much sodium intake in the U.S. has increased since 1971. The increase in sodium intake for men has increased from about 2700 mg to over 4000 mg daily in 2006. Similar increases are seen for women and children.

You Can Improve Blood Pressure Quicker Than The American Population

Although it may take decades for the American population to reverse its sodium to potassium ratio, you can do it in days. All you have to do is learn what foods are high potassium foods in each of the major food groups. Learn what cooking methods preserve potassium in the food item. Then plan foods to substitute for the foods with a high amount of sodium in your meals.

Where To Find Food Tables

It is a simple and safe way to improve blood pressure, reverse osteoporosis, and reduce multiple health risks. You can do all this by increasing your potassium to sodium ratio to more than 3 to 1. A high potassium foods diet is the simple key. The high potassium foods can be found in multiple tables on this website. Click on the tab at the top of the page labeled “Links to Food Potassium Tables”. Then click on a link to a table in your desired food group. There are tables on vegetables, fruit, poultry, dairy and all major food groups.

How To Start

There are also posts explaining how to start a high potassium diet, as well as some sample meals. By using high potassium foods, and avoiding foods high in sodium, you can quickly change your potassium to sodium ratio. You can get more than 4700 mg of potassium and less than 1500 mg of sodium a day.

It has been estimated that for more than 90% of those with hypertension, such a diet will result in a fall in blood pressure. That means fewer blood pressure medications, or even none.
1. Why and how to implement sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium changes in food items and diets? Karppanen H, Karppanen P, Mervaala E., J Hum Hypertens. 2005 Dec;19 Suppl 3:S10-9.

2. Summary of: Strategies-to-Reduce-Sodium-Intake-in-the-United-States. 2010

3. Full Report of: Strategies-to-Reduce-Sodium-Intake-in-the-United-States. 2010

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