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Did You Know Adding Table Salt To Food Can Cut Years Off Your Life?

Do you habitually add salt to food as soon as it reaches your table? You may think that sprinkling a tiny bit of salt over your food does nothing to your body and health; recent studies say otherwise.

While it may seem harmless, regular consumption of table salt is a direct step towards increasing the risk of health risks that can negatively impact your life span.

Can Adding Salt To Your Food Could Lead To An Earlier Death?

In a recent study published in the European Heart Journal, salting a meal after it has been prepared reduced life expectancy by 1.5 years for women and 2.3 years for men [1].

  • The study made use of more than data from 500,000 people over nine years.
  • The researchers initiated the study by exploring how often individuals added salt to their meals - after it was cooked. Instead of examining day-to-day sodium intake, the study particularly looked at the study participants' preference for added salt and its long-term impact on mortality.
  • Urine samples were used to analyse the estimated sodium intake.
  • Factors such as BMI, sex, and race were considered, along with the death certificate to determine life expectancy.
  • Those who added salt more frequently were also found to have a higher BMI, exercise less, consume more red meat, and consume fewer vegetables and fruits.

The study findings

  • People who added more salt were found to have a higher BMI, exercise less, consume more red meat, and consume fewer vegetables and fruits.
  • Compared with those who never or rarely added salt to their food, those who always seasoned their food were at a 28 per cent increased risk of dying prematurely.
  • Women and men who always added salt to their food had a shorter life expectancy at age 50 of 2.3 and 1.5 years, respectively.
  • The findings of the study did not confirm that additional salt is associated with a less healthy lifestyle or a lower socioeconomic status.

Additionally, the study suggested that consuming fruits and vegetables, which contain high levels of potassium, may help counteract the adverse effects of high salt intake.

"What this study has done that's interesting is that they've looked at the addition of salt in conjunction with pre-existing salt that is already accompanied with the foods people are usually eating," said experts [2].

Since the study examined the addition of salt to meals rather than salt already present in prepared food, it shows that an increase in salt beyond what is already in our food may be detrimental to our health. However, before you throw away your table salt forever, researchers have discovered that high consumption of potassium-rich foods, such as vegetables and fruits, may reduce the effects of adding salt to food and its consequences on mortality [3].

India And Salt Consumption

Salt consumption in India is about 11 g per day, which is double the WHO's recommended maximum intake of 5 g per day [4]. People should look out for their heart health, regardless of any underlying health conditions and irrespective of age [5].

People with a history of heart disease and those with risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, should be more aware of their sodium intake than the general population. In addition, individuals with a family history of cardiovascular disease should also take extra precautions [6].

To reduce daily sodium intake to a healthy level, it is important to understand which foods are the most significant contributors to sodium in your diet.

Foods With High Sodium Content

It is estimated that more than 40 per cent of the sodium we consume each day comes from only ten types of foods [7][8]. In addition, foods on the list do not always taste salty, which makes them a surprise to many people.

  • Breads and rolls
  • Pizza
  • Sandwiches
  • Cold cuts and cured meats
  • Soups
  • Burritos and tacos
  • Savoury snacks such as chips, popcorn, crackers etc.
  • Chicken
  • Cheese
  • Eggs and omelettes

On A Final Note...

Considering all the evidence gathered to date about salt, it would seem that healthy people who consume what constitutes normal levels of ordinary salt need not be concerned about their salt intake.

It is important to counterbalance salt intake with a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables. However, people at high risk for heart disease should probably reduce their salt consumption. One method for achieving this goal is not to add additional salt to already prepared foods.

Story first published: Thursday, July 14, 2022, 15:31 [IST]
Read more about: table salt food life expectancy
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