Eating less salt significantly reduces the chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke, according to a report.
The long-term study of salt’s impact on health showed that people who consumed less salty food were found to have a 25% lower risk of cardiac arrest or stroke from high blood pressure, together with a 20% lower risk of premature death. High blood pressure is one of the key factors in the cluster of increased risks for cardiovascular disease called Metabolic Syndrome (Syndrome X).
The new findings, published in the British Medical Journal, stem from work by an American team led by Dr. Nancy Cook of Harvard Medical School, which followed up two trials. Both trials were designed to persuade people to cut their salt intake and measure how far their blood pressure fell as a result.
Follow-up research by Dr Cook’s team showed that those who reduced their salt intake by about 25-35% had a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. “Our study provides unique evidence that sodium reduction might prevent cardiovascular disease and should dispel any residual concern that sodium reduction might be harmful,” the report concludes.
Exactly how salt increases blood pressure is still in dispute. The simplest explanation is that when salt intake is too high, the kidneys cannot pass it all into the urine and some ends up in the bloodstream. This quantity of salt then draws more water into the blood, increasing volume and pressure required to pump blood into the entire cardiovascular system. But not everybody is equally sensitive to salt and so not everybody will benefit equally from reducing intake.
The maximum recommended daily salt intake for different age groups is:
0-12 months – 1g
1-3 yrs – 2g
4-6 yrs – 3g
7-10 yrs – 5g
11-14 yrs – 6g
Adolescents and Adults – 6g
Monitoring your salt intake is an important part of a balanced, nutritious diet. Combining a healthy diet with regular exercise can help reverse an underlying cause of obesity, namely the imbalance of blood glucose and insulin called Insulin Resistance. By reversing Insulin Resistance, you can facilitate weight loss.
If left unchecked, obesity may lead to Metabolic Syndrome, as well as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – a leading cause of infertility and menstrual irregularity, acne and other skin conditions, excess facial hair and female hair loss. Overweight women do not have a monopoly on PCOS, however. Up to 50% of PCOS sufferers may be females who are of normal weight or even lean.