While salt’s role in high blood pressure has been known for some time, a 25-year study led by a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researcher has found that even a slight increase in daily intake appears to raise the risk of premature death.
The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
“Consuming lower levels of sodium, as advocated by the American Heart Association and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, will lead to lower blood pressure, lower risk of cardiovascular disease and lower subsequent mortality,” said lead researcher Nancy Cook, professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard Chan School.
Salt, also known as sodium chloride, is about 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chloride.
It adds flavor to food and is also used as a preservative, binder, and stabilizer.
The human body needs a very small amount of sodium – the primary element we get from salt – to conduct nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles, and maintain the proper balance of water and minerals.
But too much sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Most Americans consume at least 1.5 teaspoons of salt per day, which contains far more sodium than our bodies need.
The American Heart Association states that, on average, Americans eat more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day.
News source: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
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