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Speaking Event & Book Signing

In honor of Dr Masley’s new paperback release, The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up, he will be speaking on how to prevent and reverse heart disease, along with a book signing.

When & Where?

– Tuesday April 21st, 2015 6:30-7:30 pm

Carillon Wellness Center 

900 Carillon Parkway, St Petersburg, FL 33716

&

– Wednesday April 22nd, 2015 6:30-7:30 pm

Cheek Powel Heart & Vascular Pavilion 

455 Pinellas Street, Clearwater, FL 33756 Room A & B.

Seating is limited for both events please RSVP to info@drmasley.com

Please indicate which date and number of attendees.

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For years we have asked people to lower their salt intake, in particular people with high blood pressure. Do we really need for everyone to limit their salt, or will only a select few benefit? And what is more important, limiting sugar or salt in our diets? If you’d like to see the answer to these questions, and other tips for better blood pressure control, read on.

For most people with high blood pressure, decreasing salt intake from a typical American sodium intake of 3,800 mg per day to 2,500 mg per day lowers the top blood pressure reading (systolic) about 5 mm of Hg points, and the lower blood pressure reading (diastolic) 2.5. Yet for the average American, the typical benefit from cutting your salt intake is only a 2 point reduction.

On the other hand, new research suggests that sugar has a bigger impact on blood pressure than salt. The challenge in making this distinction is that most processed foods are often loaded with both.

A study published in Open Heart by Drs.  DiNicolantonio and Lucan explores which white crystal (sugar or salt) has the biggest impact on blood pressure levels. (DiNicolantonio JJ, Lucan SC. Open Heart 2014;1:3000167)

Their findings show that:

  • Eating more sugar increases systolic blood pressure 6.9 mm Hg points and diastolic blood pressure 5.6 mm Hg in the short term, and 7.6/6.1 mm Hg if followed for more than 8 weeks.
  • Drinking one 24-ounce soft drink can increase blood pressure by 15 systolic and 9 diastolic points and raise heart rate by 9 beats per minute.
  • People who consume 25% more calories from sugar (which is easy to do) have a 300% increase in death rate due to cardiovascular disease.
  • A high-fructose (sugar) diet for just 2 weeks increases blood pressure 7 mm Hg systolic and 5 diastolic, but also raises pulse rate, triglycerides, fasting insulin and is associated with fatty liver.
  • The good news is there is no harm noted from eating more fruit, so don’t fret over having an apple, a peach, or a cup of berries. Do avoid fruit juice and dried fruit.

For the last 100,000 years, humans consumed not more than a few pounds of sugar per year, in the form of hard-earned honey, maple syrup, or sugar cane. It is only in the last few years that our intake has leaped to 100 to 150 pounds per year. Today, one in six people get 25% of all their calories from sugar, which is way too much! No wonder rates for diabetes and metabolic syndrome are skyrocketing at epidemic rates.

I think the data is crystal clear—we should spend more energy avoiding sugar. Sugar doesn’t just raise blood pressure levels. Eating more sugar and refined carbs (any grain processed into flour) will also:

  • Worsen your cholesterol profile (makes your LDL and HDL sizes smaller) and lowers overall healthy HDL levels.
  • Increase your risk for
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease and strokes
  • Weight gain
  • Memory loss
  • Cancer

So we should be limiting our sugar intake to what I’d call an occasional treat, clearly not every day. When it is a special occasion, enjoy it.

Who needs to limit salt intake?

Genetic testing shows that one third of people are very sensitive to salt, one third mildly sensitive, and one third are hardly impacted by salt at all. People with hypertension can have genetic testing performed to clarify their sodium response.

Generally speaking, salt intake has a much more adverse impact on health and blood pressure if you have elevated blood sugar levels. That means people with metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes) and diabetes should be more cautious of their salt intake. And for people who have congestive heart failure, limiting salt intake can make the difference from staying home or being hospitalized, as extra sodium can cause fluid overload that a weak heart can’t tolerate. Salt intake also has a modest impact on bone density as eating more salt causes you to pass calcium out of the kidneys into the urine. So there are some people who should be limiting their salt intake, but I am not convinced that healthy people with normal blood pressure (less than 120/80) and normal bone density need to spend much time worrying about it.

How else can you improve blood pressure control if you don’t cut down on salt?

Here are some easy steps in addition to cutting down on sugar and salt to improve your blood pressure levels:

  • Eat five cups of vegetables and fruits daily
  • Exercise for 30 minutes daily
  • If you are overweight, lose 10 pounds
  • Add 15-20 minutes of meditation or deep prayer time daily

The bottom line is that we should all be eating more clean protein, more healthy fat, and more fiber from vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and fruits. We should use more herbs and spices to make our food taste delicious, and by adding more herbs and spices you won’t need to use as much sugar and salt.

I wish you the best of health!

Steven Masley, MD, FAHA, FACN, FAAFP, CNS