High blood pressure: ‘Avoid’ one common cooking ingredient – it can raise your levels

Dr Chris Steele shares diet tips on reducing blood pressure

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High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a stepping stone to life-threatening conditions like heart attacks and strokes. The good news is that you can get this culprit to drop by making simple lifestyle tweaks. One food that should be avoided if you don’t want to risk a high reading is stock cubes, according to Blood Pressure UK.

Whether you use it to add extra flavour to your risotto and Bolognese sauce or as the base for your soup, stock cubes are a popular cooking ingredient.

From beef to vegetable stock, the little cubes don’t only add extra taste to your meals but also salt.

As salt is considered the “single biggest cause” of high blood pressure out there, adding the small flavour enhancers to your meals could compromise your levels.

What’s worse, Action on Salt warns that some stock cubes are actually made out of 50 percent salt – the equivalent of “nearly a teaspoon”.

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In case you’re not aware, the NHS explains that adults shouldn’t have more than six grams of salt daily. The bad news is that this amount makes up around one teaspoon.

This means that using certain stock cubes could account for your whole daily allowance. For this reason, Blood Pressure UK recommends to “avoid” this ingredient.

How much salt is hidden in stock cubes?

Action on Salt conducted research into the levels of sodium hiding in gravies and stocks, revealing some very high numbers.

Looking at different types and brands, the research found that only 13 out of 103 products tested would be given “a green traffic light” for salt levels.

Many leading brands in the UK add as much as five grams of salt into their stock cubes, according to the findings.

Graham MacGregor, Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) Chairman said: “It is a scandal that there is still so much unnecessary salt in commonly used ingredients, when it is perfectly possible to make them with less.

“Manufacturers must start working towards the new salt targets immediately.

“For every one gram reduction in salt intake, we can prevent 12,000 heart attacks, strokes and heart failures, half of which would have been fatal.”

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The good news is that there are plenty of stock cubes that contain around one gram of salt per cube.

While this still represents a chunk of your daily allowance, Blood Pressure UK recommends opting for the lower-salt versions if you want to use stock.

Sonia Pombo, CASH Nutritionist said: “The levels of salt in stock and gravy vary greatly, so we need to learn how to understand the labels when buying these products and switch to a less salty choice.”

By looking at the nutritional information, you could find stock alternatives that are low in the common seasoning and better for your blood pressure.

How does salt raise blood pressure?

The household ingredient makes your body hold onto water, which puts extra water in your blood, consequently putting extra pressure on your blood vessels.

What’s worse, this recipe for high blood pressure doesn’t differentiate between those who have hypertension and those who don’t. This means that eating too much salt can send your high levels even further.

Plus, Blood Pressure UK warns that it may also compromise your blood pressure medicine by making it less effective.

The good news is that cutting down on salt is “one of the simplest ways” to lower your blood pressure. And avoiding or choosing low-salt stock cubes could be the first step.

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