Yes, you read the above right: I had struggled with prehypertension off and on for a couple of years. I simply could not figure out what was going on!
--My A1C looked good and my post-meal blood sugar levels, i.e. I did not appear to be prediabetic.
--A year and a half ago, I had a Heart Scan and they found NO plaque. (You can read my story here if you are interested: My Heart Scan (Calcium Score) Results.
Yet, more often that not, my blood pressure showed up at roughly 133/78 give or take a few points. I found that if I ate a boatload of high-nitrate foods, I could pull it down to 120/80. But the nagging question was why I had to go to such extremes just to have normal blood pressure. It was starting to get very frustrating, because I really make the effort to keep up my health - tons of whole foods, few industrial foods, plenty of exercise, etc.
Well, you can guess from the title that I made a great discovery. What happened is that I was using a lot of salsas, salad dressings, etc. to flavor my food. I'm not much of a chef (to put it politely), and so I was relying on those for flavor. However, as anyone who has read a few labels know, the amount of salt in packaged food is ungodly. So one day I was thinking, "How can I flavor my food without salt?" I happened to be in Trader Joe's and bought a couple of jars of no salt spaghetti sauce and used that for the next two days.
The results were nothing short of miraculous for me: I have not had a blood pressure reading over 120/80 since. I used to think that coffee might be causing my issues. Well, yesterday morning I drank the equivalent of about four cups of coffee and took my blood pressure and it showed up as 117/78 mm!
And my pulse was 57. It was almost always right around 70.
ARE YOU SALT SENSITIVE? What I found was that I was a salt sensitive, i.e. that my blood pressure rises significantly with extra salt. Researchers recently found strong evidence that the root cause for salt sensitivity is the fact the body is trying to regulate body temperature from the sudden influx of water into the arteries from extra salt. You can read more about this here if you are interested: Salt Can Cause a Lower Body Temperature.
Both lowering blood pressure and pulse are big gains by the way from the anti-aging standpoint. There is a school of thought that believes that elevated blood pressure creates stress at certain key junctures and bends of your arterial system making them vulnerable to the buildup of plaque. And there is even some research that shows you may only get so many Heart Beats in a Lifetime, so controlling pulse may be a big winner for survival.
Regardless, I mention the above to hopefully illustrate how you sometimes have to keep digging and keep searching to find out root causes. I had gone many different rabbit trails in my search: I thought it might be damage from weight lifting, because some research shows weights can raise blood pressure post-workout and stiffen arteries in some men according. I thought it might have been stress. I thought it might have been fructose. What a relief to figure it out finally! The bottom line is that foregoing added salt dropped my blood pressure about 15 mm and 9 mm systolic and diastolic, respectively!
Yes, I realize that guys that are going a lot of endurance sports and sweating heavily need extra sodium. However, that was not my case: My intense exercise comes from weight lifting, but there is simply no comparison between myself and a man who goes out and runs or bikes for a couple of hours.
And all I can say is this: I hope I don't get tired of that no salt Marinara Sauce...