New research reveals those dealing with high blood pressure may have an extra hard time keeping sodium levels to a safe level due to a 'salt seeking' aspect of the disease.

A preliminary study indicates consumers with high blood pressure may have a higher thirst for salty foods, which is typically a no-no in the diet of a high blood pressure patient as heavy salt intake can lead to heart attacks and stroke.

The best alternatives are food with spices that replicate that salty flavoring, say researchers.

The news comes just six months after a study recommending that those dealing with high blood pressure consider a vegetarian diet. The study, from Japan researchers, indicates that such diets can lower pressure.

High blood pressure affects nearly one third of American adults. A healthy blood pressure is considered 120/80 mm Hg.

Vegetarian diets often have reduced amounts of sodium and saturated fats while containing more fiber and potassium. According to the study authors, it didn't matter which vegetarian diet a person chose.

"There were no statistical significant differences between specific vegetarian dietary patterns," said researcher Yoko Yokoyama of the department of preventive medicine at the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Osaka.

Of the latest study, Dr. William White, current president of the American Society of Hypertension (ASH), said, "it is important to know that alternative spices could reduce sodium [salt] intake and potentially lower blood pressure."

The research involved 118 people split into four groups. Two groups included 30-year-old and women with and without high blood pressure. And two groups included participants in their 70s, either with or without high blood pressure.

Those with high blood pressure in both groups opted for a "highly salted" bread option while the other groups preferred either light or medium salted bread.

Dr. Domenic Sica, ASH's new president-elect, stated more research is needed on the 'salt seeking' nature of the disease.

"This trial did not set out to determine if there is cause and effect," he noted. "At this time, it's simply an association that needs to be further clarified in larger studies, with a more rigorous trial design."

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