Adding salt to your meal at the table is associated with a lower life span and a higher risk for early death, according to a new study.
Researchers followed up with participants about nine years later and found that the more salt people had added to their meals, the greater their chance of early death. However, those people consuming high levels of salt could lower their risk by eating more fruits and vegetables, the study said.
The American Heart Association recommends adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt per day — but notes the “ideal limit” is 1,500 milligrams per day. Consuming too much salt can raise blood pressure, which in turn can cause heart disease, stroke and kidney disease, the heart association said.
There is a long track record of scientific research showing that a diet high in salt is risky, but this study adds a new level of caution against adding more to your plate, said lead study author Lu Qi, a professor of epidemiology at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.
“More evidence, especially those from clinical trials, is needed before the public takes any action,” he said. “However, our findings are in line with the previous studies which consistently show that high sodium intakes are adversely related to various health outcomes such as hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.”
Going further to cut back
Even if you don’t add any salt to your own plate, you might be getting more sodium than you should be.
“Most of my patients do not add salt at the dinner table, but don’t realize that bread rolls, canned vegetables and chicken breasts are among the worst culprits (of high sodium) in the US,” said Dr. Stephen Juraschek, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School who researches sodium and hypertension.
Juraschek was not involved in either the Biobank study or 2020 meta-analysis.
But salt makes everything taste so good, you may be thinking.
Knowles recommends cooking at home — where you have more control over the salt shaker while making your meal — more often, reading the ingredients on your products, substituting in herb and spice blends without salt, and focusing your diet on minimally processed foods.