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High salt snacks linked to high blood pressure in youth, study

Posted:  Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Gone are the days when high blood pressure or hypertension plagued only adults. A new study has found that consuming salty snacks could lead to the development of high blood pressure in middle school students. Among many, processed convenience foods are a major hidden source of sodium.

Reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study evaluated questionnaires from 1,200 middle school children aged 11 to 13 years on their sodium and salty snack intake. Snacks were defined as salty if they contained more than 0.3 grams of sodium per portion. Salty snacks included processed foods such as pizza, crackers, potato chips, cheese and deli meats.

The average sodium intake from snacks for all the children was 1.4 grams per day. The average blood pressure reported in the study was in the average range for 12 year olds according to National Institute of Health. However, consuming 2 or more salty snacks per day was linked to increased risk of having one of the highest blood pressure readings in the study in comparison to consuming 1 salty snack. The researchers adjusted the results for the youths’ heights and weights.

Talking about the study results, the researchers said, “Snacking itself is not harmful. If fruits and fresh vegetables are consumed as daily snacks, it would be easier to increase the daily fiber intake and decrease fat, sugar and sodium consumption, in order to reach the recommended nutritional goals.”

This study helped unravel the harmful effects of unhealthy foods on the health of children. In order to keep high blood pressure at bay in young children, besides salty snacks, experts suggest avoiding excess refined carbohydrates such as sugary cereals, sweetened beverages and white bread, since these foods could increase blood pressure levels irrespective of their sodium content.

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