Thanks for your question. High salt intake contributes to high blood pressure in patients with known high blood pressure (hypertension). Therefore, doctors always ask patients to restrict their salt intake, in an effort to optimize their treatment.
It's almost impossible to completely elliminate salt from your diet. Doctor's generally would like patients to follow a two gram sodium diet. Sodium is one of the ingredients in salt, and the culprit when it come to blood pressure. That's why salt substitutes are OK which use Potassium Chloride instead of Sodium Chloride. Both provide the salty taste we enjoy. If you were to measure out how much table salt would equal 2 grams - it would be between 3/4 and a whole teaspoon.
The best way to lower salt intake is to remove the salt shaker from the table, and stop adding salt to foods prepared at home. Start reading the ingreadient lables on foods which often spell out exactly what the salt content is. 2 gram equals 2000 mg (milligrams). Stay away from canned foods (especially soups, unless they specifically say low salt), processed foods like cold cuts, chips, pretzels and other tasty snacks. Fruits and fresh vegetables are low in salt and also nutritious.
So, exercise common sense and good judgement. Think before you buy or order food. Also, please review our material from Dr. Glenn Gandelman, Salt and High Blood Pressure. You may also want to read information on the DASH diet - Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
Because Hypertension is a risk factor for heart and vascular disease, you should also change your diet to reduce fat and cholesterol, another risk factor. Please review the Cholesterol and Heart section of our website for tips at getting, and keeping these values down, to ensure a healthier future.
Martin Cane, M.D.