Salt substitution has a lower risk of dying early

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Using less salt in your food may seem boring, but the payoffs could be as big as a lowered risk of death, new research has found.
Using a salt substitute when cooking was linked with a lower risk of dying early from any cause or from cardiovascular disease in a new study published Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
With two-thirds of the findings coming from China, the authors “were surprised at how little salt substitution research has been conducted outside Asian countries,” Albarqouni said.
The trials compared the use of common salt — made of about 100% sodium chloride, occasionally with added iodine — with using a salt substitute comprised of 25% to 30% potassium chloride and 60% to 75% sodium chloride.
“If it’s sodium chloride or potassium chloride or magnesium chloride, it’s all salt.
One standard-size pickle typically has around 1,500 milligrams of salt, he added.
“It’s also important to remember that reducing sodium intake is just one way to reduce cardiovascular risk without medication,” Albarqouni said.
Salt substitutes are not a holy grail to eliminating cardiovascular disease, but are one piece of the puzzle that can help.”

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A lower risk of death is just one of the many benefits that come with using less salt in your diet, according to recent research.

In a recent study, which was published on Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, using a salt substitute when cooking was associated with a lower risk of dying young from any cause or circulation disease.

The senior author of the study, Dr. Loai Albarqouni, an assistant professor at Bond University in Australia’s Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare, expressed excitement at being able to show that salt substitutions are beneficial for improving cardiovascular outcomes when used long-term, up to 10 years. Before, synthesises typically lasted two weeks and concentrated on immediate results. “.

The research comprises 35,251 individuals with an average age of approximately 64 and a higher-than-average risk of cardiovascular disease. It is a systematic review of 16 randomized controlled trials that were published before August 23, 2023. The majority of the trials took place in China; the remainder were held in the Netherlands, Norway, Taiwan, Peru, and the United Kingdom.

The authors, according to Albarqouni, “were surprised at how little salt substitution research has been conducted outside Asian countries,” given that two-thirds of the findings originated in China. There is insufficient evidence to confirm that salt alternatives would be equally effective in a Western setting, which is one of the reasons we have rated the evidence as “low to very low certainty” for Western populations. “.

The authors discovered that replacing salt with another substance was associated with a decrease in blood pressure and sodium levels in urine, which is comparable to the effects of blood pressure drugs. That might account for the decreased mortality risk, according to Albarqouni.

The authors admitted that some of the salt alternatives used in the trials were not confirmed, and that some of them were bought by the participants rather than provided by the researchers.

The trials contrasted the use of regular salt, which is roughly 100% sodium chloride with the addition of iodine on occasion, with the use of a salt substitute that is composed of 25–30% potassium chloride and 60–75% sodium chloride.

Although salt consumption in the research context is more driven by the high amount of salt added during home food preparation, North American salt consumption patterns are “driven by processed and takeaway food,” according to Albarqouni, which is another reason why applying the findings to a Western context is challenging.

Dr. Andrew Freeman, director of cardiovascular prevention and wellness at National Jewish Health in Denver and preventative cardiologist, stated, “At this point, this is not the strongest study to base a lot of conclusions on.”. However, it strengthens the body of research and the signal amid the noise that eating more potassium and reducing sodium salt in your diet is better.

Furthermore, Freeman—who was not involved in the study—said, “even though we know potassium is beneficial, salt is salt.”. It’s all salt if it’s potassium, sodium, or magnesium chloride. Furthermore, since fruits and vegetables contain the highest concentration of potassium, eating them is the best way to supplement your diet with this mineral. “.

cutting back on salt.

For most adults, especially those with high blood pressure, the American Heart Association recommends a daily sodium limit of 1,500 mg, with a daily maximum of 2,300 mg.

“Your sodium intake is probably too high if the majority of your diet consists of packaged or restaurant food,” Albarqouni wrote in an email. “Lack of sleep, bloating or swelling, elevated blood pressure, increased thirst, and/or urination are some physical indicators that you may be consuming excessive amounts of sodium. “.

A specialist in medicine or nutrition can provide guidance if you’re worried about your consumption, Albarqouni continued.

Verify the labels to see how much sodium is included when purchasing packaged food. Certain foods, like cereals and poultry, may have higher sodium content than you might imagine, according to Freeman. He said that the average size pickle contains about 1,500 mg of salt.

In addition to cutting back on salt by simply not using it when cooking at home, experts suggested using salt-free seasonings to boost flavor in food or buying salt substitutes that have a similar composition to the ones used in the research.

Further research is necessary to confirm whether patients who are “sensitive to micronutrient manipulation,” such as those who are susceptible to potassium, such as those who have renal deficiency, can safely substitute salt for the kind used in this study, according to the authors.

Although eating less salty food might seem monotonous at first, Freeman noted that your taste buds will adjust in a matter of weeks, so give yourself some time to get used to it.

In addition, it’s critical to keep in mind that cutting back on sodium is only one strategy for lowering cardiovascular risk without medicine, according to Albarqouni. “Moving more, quitting smoking, and altering one’s diet can all have an effect. Alternatives to salt are a useful component of the puzzle, but they are not the magic bullet for curing cardiovascular disease. “.

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