- High salt intake elevates blood
pressure even if a person follows an overall healthy diet pattern.
- Blood pressure is elevated even in
people who consume high amounts of potassium
- Scientists advise people to monitor their salt intake and also
request food manufacturers to lower the salt content in their food
A healthy diet cannot reduce the effects of high
salt intake on blood pressure, reveals a new study. The diets of over 4,000 people were analyzed by
scientists from Imperial College London and Northwestern University. The
results of the study were published in the journal†Hypertension.
The study shows that people who consumed higher amounts of salt had
more elevated blood pressure and was not associated with how healthy their
overall diet is.
‘The key to reducing high blood pressure and other conditions is to consume a low salt diet.’
The scientists are now advising people to monitor
their salt intake and also requested food manufacturers to lower the salt content in their food products.
Effects of Salt on Blood Pressure
More than 1 in 4 adults are affected with high blood pressure
in the UK, which
increases the risk of heart attack and stroke, caused due to some factors like
age, weight and high salt intake.
Vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables
can affect blood vessels in some way enabling them to lower blood pressure.
In previous studies, consuming high amounts of
fruits and vegetables helped counteract the effect of high salt on blood
pressure. However, the new research suggests that these foods do not prevent the
adverse influence of salt intake.
The research team studied data from the INTERMAP
study. This study was conducted between 1997-1999, and the team tracked the
diets of 4,680 people who were in the age group of 40-59, hailing from the USA,
UK, Japan, and China.
The participants were under observation for over
four days, and two urine samples were taken during this period. The
participant's height, weight and blood pressure were also taken, and that data
of this study has been used for numerous other research projects.
Effects of Potassium on Blood Pressure
In this new study, the concentrations of sodium
and potassium in the urine samples were assessed. Sodium
is the main component of salt and potassium is found in green leafy
vegetables which lowers
blood pressure Dietary data of the
participants were analysed to determine the consumption of both sodium and
The research team also used dietary data to
assess the participant's intake of over 80 nutrients that could lower blood
pressure, including vitamin C, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are found
in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
A correlation between high blood pressure and
higher salt intake has been found even in people who were consuming a high
amount of potassium and other nutrients.
How Much of Salt is Too Much?
The recommended upper limit of adult salt intake
is 6g per day (about one teaspoon) in the UK.
The average salt intake among the participants
across the study was 10.7g a day.
The average intake of salt for the UK was 8.5g,
the intake for the USA is 9.6g, for China 13.4g and Japan was 11.7g.
Anything more than the recommended salt intake
can increase blood pressure. An increase of an additional 7g (1.2 teaspoons) of
salt above the average intake raises systolic blood pressure by 3.7 mmHg.
Blood pressure is measured in two numbers. First, the systolic
pressure, which measures the force the heart pumps blood around the body and
second, diastolic pressure, which is the resistance to blood flow in the
The ideal blood pressure should be between 90/60
and 120/80 mmHg
. However, reducing blood pressure by just a small amount
can lower the risk of chronic conditions like stroke.
Dr. Queenie Chan, the joint lead author of the
research from the School of Public Health at Imperial, said that this study
reveals the importance of cutting salt intake.
"We currently have a global epidemic of high
salt intake - and high blood pressure. This research shows there are no cheats
when it comes to reducing blood pressure. Having a low salt diet is the key - even if your diet is
otherwise healthy and balanced," explained Dr. Queenie Chan.
She added: "As a large amount of the salt in
comes from processed food, we are urging food
manufacturers to take steps to reduce salt in their products."
The data was collected over four days, and it
provides information in a concise time. Therefore, there is a need to focus on
long-term studies, with a large number of people.
Avoid Foods with High Salt Content
is essential for health and adds a lot of taste
to food. However, too much of salt can lead to high blood pressure, especially
in the middle-aged populations. High amounts of salt can also cause fluid retention, stomach cancer
One way to control the salt intake is to
implement guidelines for food manufacturers and restaurants to reduce salt
content in their foods. The impact of reducing salt in these foods could be
huge, as it can prevent some deaths caused due to heart disease.
Another way to reduce the intake of this
high-salt containing foods is to educate the general public. People should also
be taught to check food labels and select foods that contain low sodium.†
Some high salt foods
burgers, potato chips, salted nuts, salted pretzels, processed meats, white
bread, canned vegetables, baked beans, sauces, pickles, pappads, processed
cheese, salad dressings, and some breakfast cereals.
Healthy eating, following the DASH Diet
and maintaining a balanced lifestyle can help
people to control or sustain blood pressure levels, and it is also essential to
read the nutrition labels to avoid high salt food products.†
- Sodium and Salt - (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Sodium-and-Salt_UCM_303290_Article.jsp)
- Salts Effects - (http://www.bloodpressureuk.org/microsites/salt/Home/Whysaltisbad/Saltseffects)
- Dietary Salt Intake and Hypertension - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4105387/)