Recent research reveals a simple trick to lower your risk of heart disease


Sprinkling salt on the table concept

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide, and is often preventable through lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy diet and regular physical activity. One aspect of diet that has been linked to CVD risk is salt intake. Research has shown that reducing salt intake can help lower the risk of CVD. However, it is important to consume salt in moderation as part of a healthy diet, as excessive salt consumption can have negative health effects.

According to new research, a lower frequency of dietary salt intake is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

A new study published in Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that adding salt to foods less frequently is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, heart failure, and ischemic heart disease. The study suggests that even among those following a DASH-style diet, interventions to reduce salt intake may improve heart health.

Previous research has shown that high levels of sodium in the diet can contribute to the development of high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However, previous studies investigating this link have produced conflicting results due to the lack of practical methods to assess long-term dietary sodium intake. Recent studies suggest that the frequency with which an individual adds salt to food can be used to predict their individual sodium intake over time.

“Overall, we found that people who don’t add a little extra salt to their food very often have a much lower risk of heart disease events, regardless of lifestyle factors and pre-existing conditions,” said Lu Qi , MD, Ph.D., HCA Regents Distinguished Chair and professor at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.

“We also found that when patients combined a DASH diet with a low frequency of salt addition, they had the lowest risk of heart disease. This is significant, as reducing additional salt in foods, not removing salt entirely, is an incredibly modifiable risk factor that we can encourage our patients to do without too much sacrifice.”

In the current study, the authors assessed whether the frequency of adding salt to food was linked to the risk of incident heart disease in 176,570 UK Biobank participants. The study also examined the association between the frequency of adding salt to foods and the DASH diet with respect to heart disease risk.

The study used a baseline questionnaire to collect data on how often salt was added to food, not including salt used in cooking. Participants were also asked if they had made any major changes to their diet in the past 5 years, as well as completed 1 to 5 rounds of 24-hour recalls over a 3-year period.

The DASH-style diet was designed to prevent high blood pressure by limiting consumption of red and processed meats and focusing on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts and legumes.

Although the DASH diet did produce benefits in terms of reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, a recent clinical trial found that combining the DASH diet with reduced sodium was more beneficial for certain cardiac biomarkers, including heart damage, strain, and inflammation. The researchers calculated a modified DASH score that does not consider sodium intake based on seven foods and nutrients that were emphasized or de-emphasized on the DASH-style diet.

Data on heart disease events were collected using medical history and data on hospital admissions, questionnaires, and data from death records.

Overall, study participants who less frequently added salt to their foods were more likely to be women; white; having a lower body mass index; more likely to have moderate alcohol consumption; less likely to be current smokers; and more physically active. They also had a higher prevalence of high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease, but a lower prevalence of cancer.

These participants were also more likely to adhere to a DASH-style diet and consumed more fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, whole grains, low-fat but less sugar-sweetened diet beverages, or red/processed meats than those with bigger frequency. to add salt to food.

The researchers found that the association of adding salt to foods with heart disease risk was strongest in participants from lower socioeconomic backgrounds as well as current smokers. A higher modified DASH diet score was associated with a lower risk of heart disease events.

In a related editorial commentary, Sara Ghoneim, MD, a gastroenterology researcher at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, wrote that the study is promising, builds on previous reports, and alludes to the potential impact of long-term salt preferences on risk. total cardiovascular .

“A major limitation of the study is the self-reported frequency of adding salt to food and the enrollment of UK-only participants, limiting generalizability to other populations with different eating behaviors,” said Ghoneim.

“The findings of the present study are encouraging and stand ready to expand our understanding of salt-related behavioral interventions in cardiovascular health.”

References: “Addition of Salt to Foods and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease” by Hao Ma, MD, Ph.D., Xuan Wang, MD, Ph.D., Xiang Li, MD, Ph.D., Yoriko Heianza, RD, Ph. .D. and Lu Qi, MD, Ph.D., November 28, 2022, Journal of the American College of Cardiology🇧🇷
DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2022.09.039

“Dietary salt intake preferences and risk of cardiovascular disease” by Sara Ghoneim, MD, Nov 28, 2022, Journal of the American College of Cardiology🇧🇷
DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2022.10.005