Sodium and the Risk of High Blood Pressure

I’ve been nicknamed the salt queen, as I’ve changed the eating habits of many clients as well as other health care professionals. It shocks them when I bring in a bunch of processed foods to show where we are actually getting our salt from (as opposed to the salt shaker.) I then educate these clients, and health care professionals, on the impact sodium has on the risk of developing high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease.

This leads me to my next Nutrigenomics test result…sodium.

I need to get a little technical first, so bear with me. The Angiotensin-Converting enzyme gene is responsible for directing the body to produce the angiotensin-converting enzyme.  This enzyme helps your body regulate your blood pressure in response to your sodium intake.  Research studies now show that if you have a particular variant (GA or AA) of this gene you are at a 230% higher risk of developing high blood pressure IF you consume a diet high in sodium.

I have that gene variant.

This means I need to consume no more than 1500 mg of sodium. (the average Canadian consumes 3-4 times this amount and at least 75% of it coming from processed foods!)

Luckily, I tend to be pretty vigilant about my sodium intake, but am not perfect.  My son drew a picture for Mother’s Day last year in kindergarten where, he had to list what my favorite drink was. He wrote-red, with celery.

Yep, a ceasar!  I laughed so hard along with his teachers and the principle!  But thankfully it is not something I drink on a daily or even weekly basis.  I am on a mission to figure out how to make a low sodium ceasar now!

Ceasar aside, my diet is pretty low in sodium.  We make the majority of our meals from scratch and limit the amount of processed foods we consume.  We eat out generally once per week and ask for no added salt and dressings on the side.  I have no intention of giving up my occasional ceasar, but instead I will make sure to budget for it , watching my daily allowance of 1500mg.

The good news is that if I manage my sodium intake, my risk of developing high blood pressure is no higher than if I didn’t have the gene variant.  Again another example of how powerful our diet can be in reducing our risk of chronic diseases!