Is it true that you use salt for everything? It has been discovered in a recent study that if you do that, it could have a negative impact on your health.
Salt. It’s the little white granular friend that makes food taste good. Or so you think. New research is suggesting that the amount of salt we are eating may be harmful rather than helpful. Consequently, many people have started to reduce salt in their diet, but there’s more to it than just cutting back on sodium.
For example, did you know that there are different kinds of salt? A lot of people tend to use table salt as their go-to source of sodium. Salt is an essential part of life because our bodies require salty taste to survive. Our body needs sodium to stay hydrated, contract our muscles properly, and keep blood pressure at healthy levels. But too much salt isn’t good for you.
Studies show that people who eat a lot of salt are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease or stroke later on in life. Eating too much salt also has other risks like dehydration, water retention, and increased risk of stomach cancer.
Most Americans Consume Nearly 50 Percent More Than the Recommended Daily Amount of Sodium
It’s interesting to note that adding salt to food isn’t the main way Americans consume sodium; it only contributes around 6 to 20% of our daily intake. Roughly (70%) of sodium we consume comes from the processed and pre-packaged foods like deli meat, pizza, tacos, and chips.
However, a person’s frequent salting is a good indicator of sodium intake, say the authors. “Adding salt at the table results from an individual’s habitual salt intake and long-term preference for salty-tasting foods,” said Qi. Using data about adding salt at the table makes it possible to get a unique view of the association between habitual sodium intake and the risk of early death in people eating a Western diet, he noted.
Even though sodium is essential for overall health, too much of it can lead to high blood pressure. Americans consume about 3,400 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day — much more than the recommended amount of 2,300 mg per day.
Study Looked at the Impact of Added Salt in More Than Half a Million People
To examine the association between salt consumption and premature mortality and life expectancy, researchers used 501,379 UK Biobank participants who had completed a dietary questionnaire which included salt intake information.
The UK Biobank is an international health resource collected in the UK that includes blood, urine, and saliva samples, including a wide range of health information collected, from more than half a million people over a period of time that covers England, Wales, and Scotland between 2006 and 2010 — for the purpose of aiding research into a wide range of illnesses.
Researchers adjusted for a number of factors that could affect mortality, such as age, sex, race, body mass index, smoking status, alcohol intake, physical activity, diet, and medical conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. Patients were followed for an average of nine years, and early death was defined as death before age 75.
People Who Always Added Salt Had a 28 Percent Higher Risk of Dying Before Age 75
Researchers found that, in addition to a shorter life expectancy, “always salt” group members were 28 percent more likely to die prematurely. As explained by the authors, about 3 out of 100 people die between the ages of 40 and 69 in the normal population, and the higher risk in the “always salt” group suggests that one additional person may die prematurely.
Many studies indicate that eating too much sodium has a negative effect on general health and eating less sodium may provide long-term benefits. According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2021, researchers found that using a salt substitute instead of salt in household cooking and seasoning was associated with lower heart attack, stroke, and death risks.What makes sodium so important? In short, it’s all about blood pressure, says Jim Liu, MD, a cardiologist at Ohio State and a professor in the field of cardiovascular medicine, Dr. Liu was not involved in the study.
the main risk factor for stroke and heart disease is hypertension. In the case of uncontrolled blood pressure, there is an increased risk of stroke and heart disease; “A low-sodium diet can help lower blood pressure,” he says.
Eating Lots of Fruits and Vegetables May Help Mitigate the Effects of Added Salt
Researchers found a slight decrease in risk among people who ate more fruit and vegetables, but the results were not statistically significant. we weren’t surprised by this finding since fruits and vegetables are rich in potassium, which has protective effects and has been linked to a lower risk of early death,” Qi said. That’s because potassium helps reduce the tension in the walls of the blood vessels, which, according to the American Heart Association, also lowers blood pressure. The most straightforward way for people to consume more potassium and less sodium is by consuming more natural sources of potassium, including fresh fruits like citrus fruits, bananas, tomatoes, spinach, and broccoli.
More Research Is Needed Before Making Recommendations
Because this is the first study to show a link between consuming added salt and mortality, further studies are needed to validate these findings before making recommendations, said Qi. Even though the study was quite large, the authors noted a few limitations that should be taken into account when evaluating the findings. Because the UK Biobank is voluntary — not representative — it doesn’t necessarily reflect the general population. It’s also possible that consuming salty foods is associated with a unhealthy lifestyle or lower socioeconomic status, although those factors were controlled for in the study.
Though the participants reported how often they salted their food, the study didn’t capture how much salt was being added, and the amount of food consumed by the participants could have an effect on the results as well.