Reducing your salt intake by just 1 teaspoon a day can do wonders for your heart

In the U.K., there are about 60,666 deaths per year caused by stroke and at least 124,037 deaths caused by ischemic heart disease. With these alarming figures, it helps to know that researchers found that reducing salt intake by three grams per day can lower blood pressure, which in turn can help reduce the occurrence of these conditions.

Currently, people from the U.K. consume between nine and 12 grams of salt per day. Since it has been proven that too much sodium can cause hypertension (high blood pressure) – which is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease – it was recommended that salt consumption be reduced to six grams or less per day.

To prove the health benefits of cutting back on salt, a team of researchers reanalyzed a meta-analysis on the connection between hypertensive participants and their salt intake.

Certain requirements were set for a participant to be included in the research:

  • Random allocation to either reduced salt intake or usual salt intake;
  • No simultaneous interventions in either group;
  • Net reduction in 24-hour urinary sodium less than or equal to 40 mmol (2.4 g of salt per day);
  • Salt reduction for at least four weeks and; and
  • Study participants not children or pregnant.

The study used 734 hypertensives aged between 24 and 73. They were studied in 17 different trials which lasted from four weeks to one year. Their usual salt intake ranged between 7.4 g and 11.2 g which was reduced to 3.1 g to 6.9 g.

On the other hand, 2,220 normotensives participated in 11 trials. They were aged between 22 and 67, and trials lasted from four weeks to three years. From a daily salt intake of 7.5 g to 11.8 g, it was reduced to 3.3 g to 7.9 g.

The findings showed amazing results in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. For those who reduced their salt intake by three grams per day, blood pressure was reduced to 2.5 (systolic) / 1.4 (diastolic) mmHg. This slight change in salt intake also had positive effects in terms of reducing the number of deaths caused by stroke; 12 to 14 percent reduction was seen. In other words, 7,300 to 8,300 deaths by stroke can be prevented by cutting back on at least three grams of salt per day.

Moreover, there was also a decline in numbers when it comes to ischemic heart disease. Deaths caused by these conditions were reduced by nine to 10 percent which means 10,600 to 12,400 casualties can be prevented.

Among normotensives, reduction of salt intake also showed a significant decrease in blood pressure levels. With a three-gram per day cut, blood pressure can be lowered by 1.8 to 0.8 mmHg. This also reduces death by stroke by nine percent and death by ischemic heart disease by six percent. (Related: Reversing ischemic heart disease naturally.)

These results double up if salt intake is reduced by six grams per day, and triples when salt intake is reduced by nine grams per day.

Simple ways of reducing salt intake

Since salt is a staple in everyday food, it may be a little challenging to cut back on your consumption. Here are some tips you can try to start reducing salt intake:

  • Be mindful of the contents of the food you purchase; make it a habit to read the Nutrition Facts label.
  • Do away with fast food and other to-go foods and opt for home-cooked meals. This allows you to control the salt you add in your food.
  • Buy fresh meat, fruits, and vegetables.
  • If there’s no other choice, rinse canned foods with high sodium content.
  • Instead of using salt to add taste to food, use herbs and spices.
  • Reduce portion size to reduce the need for salt.

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