Some past studies have suggested that reducing your salt intake hardly makes a difference to your overall health, but new research published in the journal Cardiovascular Diseases says that salt intake actually has a dramatic effect on health.
A recent study in Finland revealed that a 30 to 35 percent decrease in salt intake over the last thirty years has lead to a 75 to 80 percent decrease in stroke and coronary heart disease. And, life expectancy rose by 6 to 7 years for the general population. But the researchers, from the University of Helsinki, found exactly the opposite situation in the United States, which they believe is due to increased salt intake. "To our surprise, the sales figures of the American Salt Institute divulged that salt intake increased more than 50 percent in the USA during the 15 years from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s", says Professor Heikki Karppanen.
Even more illuminating is the finding that there is a link between salt intake and obesity. As salt intake increases, so too does the desire to drink more, explain the study's authors; and in the U.S., the tendency is to drink soft drinks, alcohol and other calorie-laden liquids. Between 1977 and 2001, say the researchers, calories consumed from beverages skyrocketed by 135 percent in the United States.
What is important to realize, say the authors, is that the use of salt remained steady up until 1983, and the relatively low levels of obesity during this period reflect this. In this respect, the researcher's message is simple: less salt leads to less consumption of calorie-laden drinks, which will in turn lead to dramatic reductions in obesity rates.
The researchers added that some businesses have to be more responsible about how they portrayed salt to the public. "The repeated warnings by various industries on the possible harmful effects of salt reduction are unjustified and even unethical," stated Professor Karppanen.
Source: University of Helsinki