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Salt and hypertension: does sea salt lower blood pressure?

Many people take sea salt to lower blood pressure. Before doing this myself, I decided to find out whether there is any scientific basis behind this belief. I am sharing my conclusions with you in this one post, after examining multiple fact sheets, pages of nutritional analysis, and dozens of medical publications.

Ask any high blood pressure sufferer about connection between salt and hypertension, and chances are they know that eating more salt makes blood pressure rise. Even with DASH diet, low sodium DASH worked better than regular DASH ( By the way, check out my free 1200 calorie DASH diet plan)

Doctors have done a great job educating their patients about the connection between Sodium and hypertension.

But how does this knowledge translate into action, and what is the best action to take?
People tend to like simple solutions. They search for advice on the Internet and usually choose to use sea salt instead of table salt. This sounds easier to do than eliminating salt all together ( another popular piece of advice) or following special diets.

How will sea salt lower blood pressure?

Two popular explanations are:

  • Sea salt contains less Sodium
  • Sea salt contains Potassium that is known to help lower blood pressure

Sea salt contains less sodium – true of false?

False.
If you believe that sea salt contains less Sodium, you are in majority. Six out of ten Americans incorrectly believe that sea salt is a low Sodium alternative to table salt, according to the American Health Association survey published in April 2011 and reviewed at the MedPage Today. This belief is dangerous because people may feel free to use more sea salt, and end up eating more Sodium than they should.

While it is, certainly, a healthier choice, it is not because it contains less Sodium. For example, my favorite natural salt, RealSalt, contains the same amount of Sodium as table salt. On the other hand, RealSalt contains 98.32% Sodium chloride and a long list of other minerals; Sodium accounts for 39.32% of the weight compared with 40% in standard table salt.

Sea salt contains Potassium that helps to lower blood pressure- true or false?

True and false. Sea salt does contain Potassium along with other vitally important trace minerals. But is it enough Potassium to influence your blood pressure compared with other sources of Potassium in food?

Target salt intake for persons with hypertension is between 3 and 5.9 grams per day. (This translates into daily recommended Sodium intake of between 50 mmol ( 1.2 g) and 100 mmol (2.3 g) in order to achieve a reduction in blood pressure.)
Potassium represents about one tenth of 1 percent of the sea salt weight ( divide weight of salt by about 1000):

  • 0.1% – 1.4 mg/serving of 1.4g ( 1/4 tsp) in RealSalt
  • 0.12-0.19% in Celtic Sea Salt

This means that by using sea salt instead of table salt you get 0.003 to 0.0059 grams of Potassium or, easier, 3 to 5.9 mg.
Of course any amount helps, but you are much better off eating bananas. One banana has 450 mg of Potassium, and this is only 20% of your recommended daily value.

Is natural sea salt good for lower blood pressure?

Based on two conclusions above, not really.

However, there is one more consideration that you have to keep in mind when deciding what type of salt to use. Time and time again, research proves that addressing just one single nutritional element doesn’t generate sustainable results. It’s a combination of nutrients in food that has a compound effect in lowering your blood pressure naturally.
If you review the nutritional profile of sea salt and compare it with pure processed table salt with added Aluminium and Iodine, you will see the multitude of trace minerals. Your body needs them to function properly. They cost a lot when you buy them bottled at the health store. Pure salt is stripped of all of them for the sake of better looks. Why not choose sea salt that is unprocessed and offers multitude of nutrients instead of just one?

Natural sea salt ( including RealSalt) also tastes significantly better because of this, which allows you to enjoy better tasting food while on low Sodium diet. This is why celebrity chefs usually use it in their cooking.

But this is not all – your cravings for salt may be cravings of salts of minerals other than Sodium due to the mineral deficiency in your body. You may find that sea salt satisfies your taste buds better than regular salt.

So in conclusion, switching to sea salt is beneficial for your overall health. It can help you lower your blood pressure naturally, however not because it contains less Sodium or more Potassium. It’s because it may help you stick to a lower Sodium diet and replenish essential trace minerals lacking in your diet. Using sea salt is an easy step you could take immediately, but is should not be the only step.

References:

  1. Celtic Sea Salt Analysis
  2. RealSalt Nutritional Analysis
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