Salt: Reason for Blood Pressure

Salt: Reason for Blood Pressure

The debate is on-going about the role of salt in causing or worsening Blood Pressure (BP) problems. According to studies and research, people are advised to reduce their salt intake as this has a significant effect in lowering or putting an end to problems with BP.

The reduction in the intake of salt will cause a change in a person's BP, but this change might vary from one person to another. Researchers have randomly carried out more than fifty trials with adults on the effects of cutting down dietary salt on BP. These examples will be discussed below:


The amount of salt you eat and the effect it has on your BP are looked at by INTERSALT (International Study of Salt and Blood Pressure). The correlation was modest and shows the link between higher salt intake and higher BP.

The PURE STUDY (Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology) was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on August 14, 2014. The study shows that the diastolic BP went up by 0.78mm Hg while the systolic BP went up by 2.11mm Hg for every increase of 1g in dietary sodium chloride.

This study also reveals that a further increase in salt intake causes a greater rise in BP if your baseline salt intake was quite high. An increase in dietary sodium by 1g daily cause the BP level to go up by 1.74mm Hg in a person whose sodium intake was regularly between 3g and 5g daily. However, the same increase of sodium, 1g daily causes a systolic increase of 2.58 if a person’s regular intake was more than 5g of sodium daily.


The Global Burden of Diseases, Nutrition and Chronic Diseases Expert Group (NutriCoDE) published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine (August 14, 2014) summarising the findings of a meta-analysis of trials looking at the effect of dietary sodium on BP. This group showed that lower daily consumption of sodium was associated with a drop in BP and they reveal that the mean dietary sodium intake globally was 3.95g daily.

Age, Race and Existing Hypertension

A reduction in the consumption of sodium in older people, when compared to younger people, leads to a greater drop in BP. With a lower intake of sodium, people who already suffer from high BP (hypertension) also show a larger reduction in BP when compared to individuals who did not have hypertension. In response to lower dietary sodium, black people had a greater drop when compared with white people.

Salt and Sodium

One tablespoon of salt has about 2300mg of sodium. Table salt is chemically sodium chloride (NaCl) and contains approximately 40% sodium and 60% chlorine.

Uncontrolled Blood Pressure

There is a possibility that your diet has too much salt if you suffer from high BP and it is not properly controlled. It's advisable to see your doctor to discuss any possibility and seek advice about the steps you should take to reduce salt consumption.

How Much Salt?

There are different opinions and recommendations regarding the desirable level of salt and sodium intake,. Consuming less than 2300mg of sodium per day is the current Dietary Guidelines for American’s recommendation.

The AHA (American Heart Association) suggested that people should not consume more than 2300mg of sodium daily.  This recommendation was for the general population, but a lower limit of 1500mg daily was suggested for some higher risk people; black people; people whose BP was already high, and those who were middle-aged and older.

However, the US Centres for Disease Control & Prevention released data, which shows that 70% of the American population fell into the AHA recommended high-risk group. Because of this, The AHA now suggests less than 1500mg daily of sodium consumption for all Americans.

WHO Guidelines

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a daily salt intake of less than 5g for adults, which equals to less than 2000mg dietary sodium.