• Integrative Doctor

Simple salt substitute reduces stroke, heart attacks and death

Australian researchers have found that substituting table salt for a low-sodium substitute could save lives.

Excessive salt intake is linked to high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks and kidney damage. It may also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, due to oxidative stress and inflammation.

Researchers from the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney conducted one of the largest ever dietary intervention studies, with more than 21,000 people from 600 rural Chinese villages taking part over five years. All of the study’s subjects had a history of stroke or poorly controlled blood pressure.

Half of the participants switched all of their salt intake to a salt substitute comprised of 75% regular sodium chloride and 25% potassium chloride. The substitute therefore has a 25% reduction in sodium while still tasting very much like regular salt.

The other half of the study continued using normal salt.

Over the five years of the study, the group using the salt substitute had a reduction in strokes of 14% compared to the control group, with cardiovascular events including strokes and

heart attacks reduced by 13%, and a 12% reduction in premature death.

The salt substitute group also had lower blood pressure.

Potassium is not a suitable substitute for everyone as excessive potassium poses risks of its own. Patients with kidney diseases were excluded from the trial, as were those on medications that raise potassium levels such as some cardiac medications.

The study shows the benefits of even a small reduction in salt consumption, with the potential to prevent millions of premature deaths each year.

At PIM we have a particular interest in the role of diet and nutrition in our health and wellbeing. Contact us to find out more.

Click here to read more about this research.

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