A Moment of Science

More Salt, Higher Blood Pressure

You may have heard that too much salt is bad for you. Have you ever really understood why though? Learn more on this Moment of Science.

Close up of salt grains

Photo: kevindooley (flickr)

Too much salt can cause extra pressure on blood vessel walls, resulting in high blood pressure

You may have heard that too much salt is bad for you. Have you ever really understood why though?

It’s actually kind of mysterious. The body needs a certain amount of salt to function properly. Without enough salt, blood can’t properly deliver oxygen and nutrients to cells. It would seem that salt is healthy for you, based on these facts.

Well, the body doesn’t naturally produce salt, so some salt in the diet is a good thing, but too much salt, can turn the tables.

When you consume large amounts of salt in processed foods, for example, the body retains water to compensate. This extra fluid gets absorbed by the blood vessels. Scientists think the extra pressure on blood vessel walls has something to do with causing high blood pressure.

There are dozens of studies showing a link between eating lots of salt and having high blood pressure. In addition, there’s just as much evidence suggesting that eating less salt can lower blood pressure. Some scientists estimate that more than one hundred thousand people every year die from causes related to eating too much salt.

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