Salty Foods Cause Heart Disease
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
New research carried out in Boston, has shown that people who cut back on the amount of salt in their diet, reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease by a quarter AND lower their chances of dying from this condition by a fifth.
The research, which was published online by the British Medical Journal, followed up participants from two trials carried out in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
All of the participants had slightly raised blood pressure and were assigned to one of two groups: an intervention group where participants received advice to reduce their salt intake; or a control group, where participants received no advice.
Participants who received advice reduced their salt intake by 25 to 35 percent compared to the control groups.
Ten to 15 years on, the researchers obtained updated information on the participants in the two trials and discovered that eating less salt significantly lowered the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by 25 percent. But that wasn’t all. Surprisingly, 48 percent of the participants who received advice to reduce salt intake 10–15 years previously said they disliked salty foods, compared to just 32 percent of participants in the control group. Furthermore, 47 percent of the people who received salt reduction advice in the ’90s said they usually or always used low-sodium foods compared to 29 percent of the control group. Plus, 66 percent still looked at food labels for information about sodium compared with just 44 percent of the control group.
The authors conclude that a reduction in salt doesn’t just reduce blood pressure and prevent hypertension, but it also seems to prevent cardiovascular disease.
It’s widely accepted by health professionals that too much salt increases the risk of hypertension or high blood pressure which increases our risk of cardiovascular disease. This includes all the diseases of the heart and circulatory system, including strokes, heart attacks and angina.
This is one of the first pieces of research to show a direct link between salt intakes and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
This study also indicates that people who were advised to cut back on salt many years ago continued to stick to a lower salt diet in the long term.
While ditching the salt pot is important, it’s also essential to eat fewer salty foods such as sauces, pickles, ready meals, ready-made pasta sauces, canned soups, burgers, sausages, bacon, chicken nuggets, pizzas, takeaways, crisps and savoury snacks.
Bread, breakfast cereals and cheese can also be packed with salt so get into the habit of comparing products when you’re shopping – and go for those with the lowest salt content.
If foods aren’t labelled with values for salt, multiply the value for sodium in a portion by 2.5 to give you the total amount of salt in that portion.
Recommended Daily Allowance
No more than 6g salt per day.
1.25g salt (0.5g sodium) per 100g = HIGH
0.25g salt (0.1g sodium) per 100g = LOW
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This site has been created by the Food Standards Agency to support its salt campaign.