There have been many studies published over the past twenty years telling us that salt causes high blood pressure. This is still a bit controversial, but it is more important to know whether cutting out salt can actually prevent bad things from happening to you. A large research study offers a compelling reason to find something else to sprinkle on your meals. Researchers from Harvard University reported on over 2415 patients they have been following for several years. The people who have been eating less salt have had 25% fewer heart attacks, strokes and deaths over ten years of follow-up. [1]

Although it may seem like the furthest thing from alternative medicine, changing what you eat is definitely an alternative to prescription drugs. Because high blood pressure is so common, and so important to keep under control, this research is important to know. The biggest sources of salt in the modern diet are in packaged foods, processed foods, junk food and fast food. This is because the ingredients are usually so limp and stale that heavy doses of salt are needed to make them taste good. You should also watch out for ketchup, mustard, relish and other sauces – which are very high in sodium.

You should know about the other important causes of blood pressure that you should target before accepting a lifetime of pill therapy. These include low potassium and magnesium in the diet, trace amounts of lead in the body, low levels of certain hormones, and psychological stress. Many people have cut salt out of their diet, but the best way to ensure that the potassium and magnesium are taken care of is to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, nuts and whole grains. You should also find out if you have lead in your body, since it also affects kidney function, heart disease risk and brain function. It can be removed with chelation therapy.

[1] Cook NR, Cutler JA, Obarzanek E, Buring JE et al. Long term effects of dietary sodium reduction on cardiovascular disease outcomes: observational follow-up of then trials of hypertension prevention (TOHP). (British Medical Journal. 2007;334:885.