Cutting Salt Now Helps Heart Later

A lot of times, when it comes to health concerns, many of us are reactive instead of proactive. We follow our doctor’s advice about being healthy, but they are often looking at the problem at hand, not something down the road. And, usually, when we think about getting out ahead of health problems, we’re thinking of exercise or making our diet healthier. Most of us don’t think about cutting salt if we don’t have heart problems. However, cutting salt out of your diet early can prevent heart problems later.

There have been studies saying that too little salt is unhealthy. However, they keep being debunked. Many authorities from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Center for Science in the Public Interest to the American Heart Association, CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) all agree: salt is really bad for health. An overabundance of salt is considered the leading contributor or early death from heart problems. While we do need a tiny amount of salt to be healthy, it is practically none, compared to what we actually eat. WHO says we should be eating less than five grams a day, but most of us consume more than 10 grams. Unfortunately, more than 80 percent of our salt intake comes from processed food. Even if you avoid adding any table salt to your meal or using it as you cook, you will still be consuming far more than the highest amount WHO says is safe.

While food advice can switch over the years, this one hasn’t. Dieticians may go back and forth about the healthfulness of eggs, dairy and other controversial foods; they agree that salt is unhealthy. A meta-analysis of 133 studies found that cutting salt reduced blood pressure regardless of whether or not the person had high blood pressure before, preemptively helping heart health. The higher the salt reduction, the more impact it had on blood pressure. Moreover, high amounts of salt increased the chances of kidney problems and stroke.

Salt reduction efforts should be reinforced in the UK and worldwide,” said the lead researcher Feng He, from Queen Mary Univ. of London, “to save millions of people suffering and dying unnecessarily from strokes and heart disease each year.” 

If you want to cut out salt, read labels in the supermarket, consider how much salt is in your food and pick brands with lower amounts. Pay close attention to serving size, sometimes labels can be misleading and make brands seem better than they are. This might also inspire you to switch from some mass-produced foods to versions you can make at home. Also, skip the salt in your recipes, instead use spice blends so you can add flavor to your dish without increasing the amount of sodium in your diet.
March 06, 2020
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