WHAT IS BLOOD PRESSURE: Blood pressure is made up of two measures, the force in the arteries when the heart beats and when the heart is at rest. They both measure the pressure that blood exerts on blood vessel walls while traveling through the body. Blood pressure reduces as the blood travels from larger arteries into the smallest of capillaries. When blood pressure is high, there is an increased risk of heart disease (which leads to heart attack) and stroke. It is most common in adults over age 35, and is especially prevalent in African Americans, the middle-aged and elderly, obese people, heavy drinkers, and women who are taking birth control pills. Those with diabetes, gout or kidney disease are also prone to suffer from high blood pressure. Reducing blood pressure is associated with lowering the risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease. Lowering salt intake is one of several steps that can contribute to lowering blood pressure.
SALT SUBSTITUTES: Experimental psychologists are studying ways to reduce or replace table salt by examining human perceptions of taste. Because researchers have not yet fully determined how the tongue detects salt, existing salt substitutes are flawed. While salt is often used to make bland foods taste better, it is also used to counteract bitter flavors, make foods last longer and create stronger dough. Researchers are looking into ways to affect salt-receptors in order to make low-sodium foods taste saltier.