Adding additional salt to foods at a lower frequency is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, heart failure and ischemic heart disease, according to a new study published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (ACC). Even among those following a DASH-style diet, behavioral interventions to lessen salt consumption could further improve heart health.
There’s substantial evidence linking high sodium intake to high blood pressure, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However, epidemiological studies investigating this link have produced conflicting results due to a lack of practical methods for assessing long-term dietary sodium intake. Recent studies suggest that the frequency at which an individual adds salt to their foods could be used to predict their individual sodium intake over time.
“Overall, we found that people who don’t shake on a little additional salt to their foods very often had a much lower risk of heart disease events, regardless of lifestyle factors and pre-existing disease,” said Lu Qi, MD, PhD, HCA Regents Distinguished Chair and professor at the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans. “We also found that when patients combine a DASH diet with a low frequency of adding salt, they had the lowest heart disease risk. This is meaningful as reducing additional salt to food, not removing salt entirely, is an incredibly modifiable risk factor that we can hopefully encourage our patients to make without much sacrifice.”
In the current study, the authors evaluated whether the frequency of adding salt to foods was linked with incident heart disease risk in 176,570 participants from the UK Biobank. The study also examined the association between the frequency of adding salt to foods and the DASH diet as it relates to heart disease risk.