Important, interrelated factors leading to hypertension include obesity, stress, and the genetic vulnerability of American consumers, in addition to their sodium intake. The balance between potassium and sodium is very important for proper body function, and more attention should be given to ways for improving potassium intake.
Sodium is important for essential processes within the body, including circulation, digestion, metabolism and nerve impulses. The body does not normally store excess sodium.
While consumption habits and food product choices have changed considerably in recent decades, the rate of salt intake by the U.S. consumer has not altered substantially over the past 25 years.
Roger A. Clemens, Ph.D., a sodium and nutritional biochemistry expert with the Institute of Food Technologists and adjunct professor at University of Southern California says consumers who need to monitor their salt intake already have a system in place.
“By paying more attention to the Nutrition Facts Label included on all processed foods, individuals whose hypertension is affected by sodium can begin to take control over their sodium intake,” says Clemens.
Sodium can be added to food for reasons beyond taste. Sodium in the form of salt and salt brine often serves as an important antimicrobial agent, and sodium can be necessary to achieve desired fermentation or texture in some products and leavening in others.
For populations at risk of developing hypertension, many food science and technology advancements have led to the development of many salt-free and reduced-sodium products now readily available.