The Negative Effects of High Sodium on African Americans

Most people get too much sodium and not enough of these essential nutrients, which leads to a mineral imbalance. A mineral imbalance can be dangerous. Our bodies require a properly balanced intake of key minerals elements known as electrolytes to maintain normal functioning of the heart, brain, kidneys, nerves, and muscles. Unfortunately, the typical U.S. diet, steeped in salty, processed foods, provides an overabundance of sodium and marginal amounts of calcium, potassium and magnesium. This electrolyte imbalance contributes to a variety of ailments, including high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and kidney stones.

Because our diets are high in sodium and low in calcium, potassium, and magnesium, one in three American adults has hypertension. Hypertension can also lead to problems with the blood vessels in the eyes and quicken macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 65. Hypertension can also contribute to diabetic retinopathy, which is a disorder of the retina resulting from diabetes. Many African Americans are prone to hypertension due to the high sodium intake in their diets. Fried foods, foods high in pork, which has a very high amount of sodium, adding more salt to a food that is already high in sodium is one reason why African Americans are more likely to develop hypertension and high blood pressure, which leads to an increase in strokes, heart attacks, and dementia.

The negative effects of a poor diet can also increase chances of cancer. Colon cancer is also prevalent in African Americans, in particularly men, but also women. Again, poor diets can lead to an increase chance of colon cancer. One may wonder why African Americans have such poor diet practices. One reason may be due to slavery. In the days of slavery, Blacks could only afford basically leftovers and the cheapest types of foods. Pork was cheap and easy to obtain but pork has a high amount of sodium in it. Bacon, ham, sausage, chitterlings, ham hocks, pigs’ feet, etc. are all derived pork foods and are all high in sodium and fat. For many slaves these foods were the only type of foods available and affordable. Throughout the years similar to traditions, these foods continue to be favorites for many African Americans. Unfortunately, these foods are a daily part of many African Americans’ diets and the daily intake of these foods and their negative effects increase chances of developing ailments, such as hypertension and colon cancer.

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