Salt Consumption Increases Risk of Early Death
Conventional wisdom says too much salt is bad because it can lead to high blood pressure.
And now a new 25-year study finds that salt, even just a little bit could increase your risk of premature death.
The research found that if you normally have about 1.5 teaspoons of salt daily, adding just slightly less than a half teaspoon (1,000 milligrams) more a day can increase your odds of dying early by 12%. And, the risk continues to climb 12% for each 1,000 milligrams of salt you add to your daily diet.
There is good news
Cutting back on your salt consumption could extend your life. The study showed that restricting salt seemed to lower the risk of dying prematurely by 15%. However, this finding did not reach statistical significance, the researchers said.
“Consuming lower levels of sodium, as advocated by the American Heart Association and the US Dietary Guidelines, will lead to lower blood pressure, lower risk of cardiovascular disease and lower subsequent mortality,” said lead researcher Nancy Cook. She’s a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
Specifically, Ms. Cook’s team found that over 24 years, people who consumed less than 1 teaspoon (2,300 mg of salt a day) had a 25% lower risk of dying, compared with those who consumed almost 1.5 teaspoons (3,600 mg/day).
The American Heart Association (AHA) says that the average American consumes 3,400 mg of salt a day.
“Much of the sodium we consume is found in processed food,” Cook said. “The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) has now recommended a gradual reduction in sodium content in many such foods, which should lead to lower rates of hypertension as well as cardiovascular disease and deaths,” she said.
The report was published on 3 October in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The AHA currently recommends no more than 2,400 mg of salt daily. But, for optimal heart health, the AHA suggests no more than 1,500 mg of salt each day.
“Our results found the lowest mortality among those consuming the lowest levels of sodium, and we believe they are more accurate than results from other studies,” Ms. Cooke added.
For the new research, the investigators included 2 studies in which participants were either counseled on reducing how much salt they ate or were left to eat as much as they wanted.
These studies: Trials of Hypertension Prevention I and II were designed to see if reducing salt could prevent high blood pressure. Salt intake was measured with regular urine samples.
There were 744 people in the phase 1 trial and nearly 2,400 people in the phase 2 trial who restricted their salt intake. Two hundred and fifty-one people in the salt-restriction group died during the study. Among nearly 3,000 people who were not asked to restrict their salt, 272 died, Ms. Cook’s team found.
The 1st trial was conducted from Y’s 1987 to 1990 and the 2nd from Y’s 1990 to 1995.
The Western Diet is loaded with prepared, frozen, junky, highly processed, poor-quality foods, laden with added salt.
These kinds of diets raise the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, obesity and other diseases for many reasons, including the fact that they are high in salt.
The authors of an accompanying journal editorial said this study “support modest reductions in sodium intake among persons consuming high-sodium diets,” along with a healthy diet.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively.
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