Making these simple changes can save millions of lives each year, according to new studies published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Scientists have known that reducing the amount of salt people eat can lower their blood pressure, which ultimately reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. A previous study in the same journal showed that high salt intake is linked to a significantly increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
Although little is known about the possible advantages of increasing potassium intake, lower potassium consumption has been associated with high blood pressure.
Therefore, the World Health Organization (WHO) is aiming to reduce dietary salt intake around the world to about one teaspoon, or 5-6 grams, per person each day by 2025.
Unfortunately, in several countries salt intake is currently much higher than WHO's goal. NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) suggests a decrease in salt intake to 3g per day by 2025 for adults in the UK.
First StudyIn the first report, researchers set out to observe the impact of modest salt reduction on hormones, blood pressure, and blood fats (lipids) from 34 trials consisting of 3,000 adults.
After examining people with high blood pressure and those with normal blood pressure, results showed that four or more weeks of modest salt reduction lead to notable decreases in blood pressure in both groups.
This outcome was seen across populations, in white and black people and in both males and females. This change in their diet reduced the risk of:
Second StudyIn a second analysis of 56 reports, comparable results were seen. Thirty-seven of the trials were of high quality and examined blood lipids, blood pressure, catecholamine levels, and renal function.
The team discovered that reduced salt intake lowers blood pressure and has no negative impact on hormone levels, blood lipids, or kidney function. Moderate quality evidence demonstrated that a reduction in sodium intake can reduce blood pressure in kids.
Lower sodium intake was also linked toa lower chance of stroke and fatal coronary heart disease in adults.
The scientists said:
"The totality of evidence suggests that reducing sodium intake should be part of public health efforts to reduce blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases, and will likely benefit most individuals."
Third StudyThe third investigation examined data on potassium intake and health from 33 reports consisting of more than 128,000 healthy volunteers.
According to the experts, increased potassium intake lowered blood pressure in adults and had no negative influence on hormone levels, kidney function, or blood lipids.
Increased potassium intake was associated with a 24% reduced probability of stroke in adults and may also have an advantageous impact on blood pressure in kids, but further research is necessary.
There is an increased benefit with reducing salt intake at the same time, according to the scientists.
WHO RecommendationsAccording to the researchers:
"[They] set a global goal of a 30% relative reduction in mean adult population intake of salt by 2025, with the aim of achieving the WHO's salt intake recommendation, yet salt intake in many countries is currently much higher than this. In the UK, NICE recommends a reduction in salt intake to 3 g per day by 2025 for the adult population."
WHO's recommendations on salt:
- For adults, they should reduce their intake to <2g/day sodium (5 g/day salt).
- For children, the suggested maximum level of intake of 2g/day sodium in adults should be lowered, based on the energy requirements of kids relative to those of adults.
- For adults, they should consume at least 90 mmol/day (3510 mg/day).
- For kids, the suggested intake of at least 90 mmol/day should be lowered, based on the energy requirements of kids relative to those of adults.