As the new year kicks off, many people are thinking about ways to support their health – especially their heart health. For a start, research shows they may want to focus on eliminating extra salt from their diet.
A recent study found that the majority of adults who significantly reduced their sodium intake to about 500 mg a day — a 75% reduction from their normal salt intake — saw their systolic blood pressure drop by about 6-8 mm Hg in one week.
“It’s a dramatic effect,” said Norrina Allen, Ph.D., M.P.H., a senior author on the study and a professor of health policy, epidemiology, and pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “That’s about the effect you would see starting medication.”
Allen said the effects from this single diet change were seen across participants with varying blood pressure levels: normal, elevated, and high but controlled with medication. Yet, as great as its benefit, drastically cutting salt intake can be difficult, said Charlotte Pratt, Ph.D., R.D., Deputy Chief of NHLBI’s Clinical Applications and Prevention branch in the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences. Most Americans consume more than 3,300 mg of sodium each day (about 1.5 teaspoons of salt), which is higher than the recommended 2,300 mg limit for adults.
Excerpted from National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute