Salt Substitutes May Slash the Risk of Hypertension

Replacing salt with substitutes containing less sodium may significantly reduce the risk of developing hypertension in older adults with normal blood pressure.

Excessive intake of sodium — a major compound of salt — is directly linked to hypertension. The higher the daily salt intake, the higher the systolic blood pressure (the top number).

The World Health Organization has recently called for "massive efforts" to reduce global sodium intake to address hypertension as the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease and mortality.

A new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology looked at the relationship between salt substitutes and blood pressure.

The study examined 611 participants 55 years or older who were split into two groups: 313 participants replaced the usual salt with the salt substitute, and 298 participants continued the use of the usual salt.

All participants had normal blood pressure <140/90mmHg and were not using medications for hypertension at the beginning of the study.

After a two-year follow-up, the incidence of hypertension was 11.7 per 100 people-years in participants in the salt substitute group and 24.3 per 100 people-years in participants consuming regular salt.

People using the salt substitute were 40% less likely to develop hypertension compared to those in the salt group.

“Our results showcase an exciting breakthrough in maintaining blood pressure that offers a way for people to safeguard their health and minimize the potential for cardiovascular risks, all while being able to enjoy the perks of adding delicious flavor to their favorite meals,” Yangfeng Wu, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and Executive Director of Peking University Clinical Research Institute in Beijing, China said in a statement.

Salt intake in the U.S. is too high

Our bodies require a tiny amount of sodium to maintain the function of nerves and muscles as well as the balance of fluids. Americans consume 3,500 mg of sodium daily, on average, exceeding the 2,300 mg limit recommended by the American Heart Association.

Reduce your sodium intake by following the tips by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Buy fresh, frozen, or canned vegetables with no added salt or sauce.
  • Choose packaged foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”
  • Purchase fresh poultry, fish, pork, and lean meat instead of cured, salted, smoked, and other processed meats.
  • When cooking, use salt alternatives such as garlic, citrus juice, salt-free seasonings, or spices.
  • Limit sauces, mixes, and instant products.
  • When dining out, select a lower-sodium meal and ask that no salt be added to your meal.

Hypertension is linked to heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and other serious health conditions. Therefore, it is crucial to take steps to reduce its risk factors.


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