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Assault on the System

Michael Glenwood

Assault on the System (continued)

Blood Pressure Basics 

Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). A blood pressure reading of “120 over 80”—considered normal—means that the pressure peak when the heart beats (systolic) is 120 mm Hg, and the pressure trough (diastolic) is 80 mm Hg. Hypertension is defined as 140/90 or above, but any reading above 120/80 is believed to bring an added risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and kidney disease.

The Hypertension Epidemic 

In modern societies, the prevalence of hypertension is usually 10-20 percent among people in their 30s, and tends to rise sharply with increasing age. Among people over 75 in the U.S., about 65 percent of men and 80 percent of women are hypertensive. In some pre-modern societies with healthier diets and more physical exercise, however, hypertension is unusual even among the elderly.

Recommended Salt Intake 

Every five years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issues its recommended dietary guidelines. The current guidelines specify a maximum daily sodium intake of 2,300 mg for young, healthy people, and 1,500 mg for those of us who are over 40, have hypertension or belong to a more salt-sensitive ethnic group (for example, people of African heritage). Yet population sampling has found that only about 10 percent of people in the first category meet that target, and less than 6 percent of those in the second category meet their lower target. The 2010 dietary guidelines, due out late this year, are expected to be somewhat tighter.

Our Salty Diet: Sodium Content of Some Common Foods

McDonald’s Big Breakfast with Hotcakes

2,150 mg

McDonald’s Big Mac

1,040 mg

McDonald’s Premium Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich

1,410 mg

Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, can

2,291 mg

Pizza Hut Meat Lover’s Personal Pan Pizza

2,110 mg

Thomas’s English Muffin, one muffin

200 mg

Vermont Bread Co., two slices whole wheat

320 mg

Heinz Baked Beans with tomato sauce, 13.7-ounce can

1,781 mg

Heinz Tomato Ketchup, 2 tablespoons

380 mg

Armour Vienna Sausages, can

1,225 mg

Oscar Mayer beef frank, small

461 mg

Kikkoman Soy Sauce, 1 tablespoon

920 mg

Comments

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  • Adongo Amos Otieno

    Marsabit, Northern Kenya 10/16/2010 04:16:12 AM

    Hi, This indeed is very valuable information. Kenya is already into this trouble. Overweight among young people below 40 years is on the rise probably due to increase in consumption of processed foods. But attention now needs to shift research work towards nomads of Kenya who originally thought to be resistant to Hypertension despite red meat diet. Is there a professor in Johns Hopkins interested in the study of nutrition and public health among nomadic people? Let's be touch.

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