A study has found that decreasing the salt in our diet, even by a small amount, could result in fewer deaths from heart disease and other illnesses.
The research was presented at the American heart Association's 49th Annual Conference on Cardiovascular disease Epidemiology and Prevention, and reported that for every gram of salt reduced daily in the diet, a quarter of a million fewer new heart disease cases and over 200,000 fewer deaths would occur over a decade.
The lead author of the study Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo said:
"A very modest decrease in the amount of salt - hardly detectable in the taste of food - can have dramatic health benefits for the U.S.
"It was a surprise to see the magnitude of the impact on the population, given the very small reductions in salt that we were modeling."
A 3-gram-a-day reduction in salt intake (about 1200 mg of sodium) would result in 6 percent fewer cases of new heart disease, 8 percent fewer heart attacks, and 3 percent fewer deaths. Previous evidence has linked salt intake to high blood pressure and heart disease. Some salt in the diet is essential for normal body function, but the average diet contains an excess of salt, the majority of it in some diets coming from prepared and packaged foods.
"It's clear that we need to lower salt intake, but individuals find it hard to make substantial cuts because most salt comes from processed foods, not from the salt shaker,
"Our study suggests that the food industry and those who regulate it could contribute substantially to the health of the nation by achieving even small reductions in the amount of salt in these processed foods." The author said.
The results of the study were derived from a validated computer-simulation of heart disease among U.S. adults. To estimate the benefit of making small reductions in salt intake, the investigators used the Coronary heart disease Policy Model, a computer simulation of heart disease in the U.S. adult population.
The researchers used the model to estimate the impact of an immediate reduction of daily salt intake by 0-6 grams on the incidence of cardiovascular disease and deaths between 2010-2019. In that period, the model suggests that more than 800,000 life-years could be saved for each gram of salt lowered. The model showed that larger reductions would have greater benefits.
Tips to Reduce salt Intake
- Most sodium is consumed in the form of sodium chloride, which is table salt. Other forms of sodium are also found in food, so watch out for salt and sodium. Each gram of salt contains 0.4 grams of sodium.
- When cooking, instead of adding salt to flavor food, try using spices and herbs such as pepper, basil, chives, rosemary, coriander, chili, paprika, garlic, ginger, vinegar, and lemon juice.
- Reduce your consumption of pre-prepared meals, sauces and other processed food.
- Cut down on your salt intake gradually, and your taste for it will soon change.