Healthy Diet is of No Use, If Your Diet is High in Salt

Healthy Diet is of No Use, If Your Diet is High in Salt

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Highlights:
  • 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 products
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.
Healthy Diet is of No Use, If Your Diet is High in Salt

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 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 potassium.

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

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 arteries.

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 our diet 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

Salt 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, and osteoporosis.

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 include pizzas, 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.

References:
  1. Sodium and Salt - (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Sodium-and-Salt_UCM_303290_Article.jsp)
  2. Salts Effects - (http://www.bloodpressureuk.org/microsites/salt/Home/Whysaltisbad/Saltseffects)
  3. Dietary Salt Intake and Hypertension - (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4105387/)
Source: Medindia
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