Help!  My blood pressure won’t go down!   After being diagnosed with hypertension, I started opting for foods labeled “low sodium.”  But at my last checkup, my doctor said that my blood pressure had barely improved.  Why aren’t these dietary changes helping?

You’ve wisely taken steps to limit your intake of sodium chloride, the salt in most processed fare.  But there’s another unhealthy salt on the scene: sodium benzoate, which is used as a preservative in everything from soda to cereal.  The body considers this compound foreign and scrambles to flush it out, causing a rise in blood pressure.  While sodium benzoate is listed on food labels, it’s too widespread to avoid completely.  The easiest fix: Increase your intake of potassium.  This mineral removes bad salts from cells, so the body doesn’t strain to eliminate them.  In a Johns Hopkins University study, subjects who ate potassium-rich foods experienced a 19 percent drop in blood pressure in under two weeks!  Great sources of potassium include bananas and potatoes.  Or take a daily supplement of potassium gluconate (an easily absorbed form), like Nature Made Potassium Gluconate 550mg ($5 for 100 tablets, at drugstores).


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