Salt and health

Three new pieces of research were published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week looking at the link between salt in our diet and health. They are all important pieces of research based on data from a large number of people.

Two of the research pieces from The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study that involved over 100,000 people in 17 countries. These found:

  • A high intake of sodium increased blood pressure and this was greatest in those with high blood pressure, the elderly, and those with high sodium diets (more than 5g of sodium a day).
  • A sodium intake of more than 6g a day (about 15g of salt) is associated with an increased risk of death and cardiovascular events. The risk of death and cardiovascular events was lowest in people who ate between 3g and 6g of sodium a day (about 7.5g to 15g of salt).
  • Foods like fruit and vegetables that are high in potassium may counteract some of the harmful effects of salt on blood pressure - A high sodium intake was more strongly associated with blood pressure in those with a low potassium intake.
  • Low salt intakes may be link with an increased risk of death and cardiovascular events.
  • Only 1 in 10 people had sodium intakes less than 3g/d (about 7.5g of salt).

The third piece of research was a modelling study based on data from 66 countries. It estimated that 1.65 million deaths for cardiovascular disease in 2010 were attributable to consuming too much salt – more than 5g per day (2g sodium per day).

Taken together, these studies confirm that we do need a certain amount of salt in our diets, but that too much salt harms our health. To find out how to avoid a high salt diet, try our salt calculator and tips.

The research also show that foods like fruit and vegetables are beneficial. For tips on increasing fruit and vegetables, try our 'Easy Ways to Eat 5-a-day' infographic. 

Posted: 15/08/2014 16:23:21 by Niamh Gately


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