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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Sodium and High Blood Pressure

For the first time in a long time, I have recently had a problem with high blood pressure. I mentioned in a previous post that my Medicare Advantage Plan carrier made a change in tier 3 and 4 drugs to now include a $225 annual deductible in addition to any existing co-pays. I had my prescription changed to a similar tier 1 drug to replace the felodipine (plendil) I have been on since being on any medication for blood pressure several years ago. With the LOW dose of Felodipine, my blood pressure averaged around 120/80 or LESS. Many times in the morning the readings were 110/67 for example. I tried the new prescription for two weeks and for some unexplainable reason, my blood pressure took a big hike. I was getting readings as high as 170/95. 155/90, 148/85 etc. I assumed it was the change to a tier 1 drug that replaced the felodipine. It may have something to do with that, however I started also looking at my sodium intake.

I had been eating two packets of the prepackaged Quaker instant oatmeal every morning with some blueberries and wheat germ on it and skim milk. I did not realize that one packet of Quaker instant oatmeal including apples and cranberries (flavor) contained 170  mg of sodium. The other packet I had every morning was Quaker weight control instant oatmeal and that contains 150 mg of sodium.
That means for breakfast alone, I was consuming 320 mg of sodium.

Today I switched to either Quaker one minute oats or Frosted Mini Wheats with fresh blueberries and skim milk. Both the Quaker oats and the Frosted Mini Wheats have ZERO sodium. I am normally rushed in the morning and the mini wheats do not have any more sugar that the oatmeal I was eating every morning. I realize there are better choices for breakfast, however this post is about sodium intake.

I also LOVE nuts whether it is cashews, peanuts, pistachios, walnuts, almonds etc. Out of convenience, I found myself buying a lot of canned nuts from Planters and most of them contain sea salt and or added sugar. As an example the 14 oz blue can of Planters nuts contains 110 mg of sodium per serving which is listed as 50 pieces. The can contains half pieces so we are talking about 25 cashew nuts.

To add insult to injury, I was consuming sometimes one can of Campbell's chunky soup a day depending on my schedule. As an example one can  of Chunky Savory chicken and White and wild rice contains 810 mg of sodium per serving, so eating the whole can supplies you with 1620 mg of sodium.


320 mg of sodium from the two oatmeal packets for breakfast
220 mg of sodium from a couple of handfuls of Planter's cashew pieces for a snack
1620 mg of sodium from one can of chunky soup

Total intake to start your afternoon off with is 2160 mg of sodium

WAIT a Minute........THAT simply can't be...Can It? Do I dare say that once in a while (NOT very often), I might grab a small handful of  Lay's Wavy Original potato chips. If I do the math, 11 potato chips equals another 140 mg, bring our breakfast and lunch grand total to:

A WHOPPING 2300 MG OF SODIUM! GEE, I wonder what is for dinner?  (THE FDA lists 2300 mg of sodium as the outside daily limit and for many people 1500 mg. Even natural foods with ZERO added sodium contribute to this total, it is easy to see how consuming 2300 mg by noon time on purpose can put one's sodium intake out of whack)

You get the point, is it any wonder that my blood pressure went into overdrive for a while. Starting today, my breakfast cereal has -0- grams of sodium. I bought a pound of raw unsalted cashew nuts to snack on. I am OFF the canned soups and back to taking my own advice of reading LABELS on everything that goes into the grocery cart.

I do NOT like and never have liked being on prescription drugs. I consider them a foreign substance that interferes with the way God set our bodies up to work. Drugs are NOT food, for the most part do not provide any nutrition. Very few of them except in severe circumstances for a short period of time improve one's overall health. They come with a long list of possible side effects many of which use the word FATAL in the small print.

YES I am on four prescription drugs which include 2 for diabetes and 2 for blood pressure. I take them faithfully although I have had the dose on all four reduced in the last 3 or 4 years. My intention is to get my blood pressure under great control again by reducing dramatically my sodium intake and taking my BP two or three times daily with a wrist cuff and posting the results on this blog. Perhaps if the good Lord above smiles down on me, I might even be able to eliminate a couple of the prescriptions and control the BP with just diet.

Here is a photo of some products listed in the blog post. The over riding lesson here is to READ LABELS when you are doing the grocery shopping and make wise choices.


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