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What’s an Easy Way to Lower Heart Disease Risk?

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September 8, 2023 •  Emily Hicks Law, PLLC
According to new research, a lower frequency of dietary salt intake is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. It is frequently preventable with lifestyle changes like as maintaining a healthy diet and regular physical activity. One part of diet that’s been connected to CVD risk is salt intake. Research has shown that reducing salt intake can help lower the risk of CVD. However, it’s important to consume salt in moderation as part of a healthy diet. That’s because excessive salt intake can have negative health effects.

Sci Tech Daily’s recent article entitled “Recent Research Reveals a Simple Trick To Lower Heart Disease Risk,” reports that a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has found that adding salt to foods at a lower frequency is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, heart failure and ischemic heart disease.

The study suggests that, even among those following a DASH-style diet, efforts to decrease salt intake may improve heart health. Prior studies have shown that high levels of sodium in the diet can contribute to the development of high blood pressure—a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However, previous studies investigating this link have found conflicting results due to a lack of practical methods for assessing long-term dietary sodium intake. Recent studies suggest the frequency at which an individual adds salt to their foods can be used to predict their individual sodium intake over time.

“Overall, we found that people who don’t shake on a little additional salt to their foods very often had a much lower risk of heart disease events, regardless of lifestyle factors and pre-existing disease,” said Lu Qi, MD, Ph.D., HCA Regents Distinguished Chair and professor at the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans.

“We also found that when patients combine a DASH diet with a low frequency of adding salt, they had the lowest heart disease risk. This is meaningful as reducing additional salt to food, not removing salt entirely, is an incredibly modifiable risk factor that we can hopefully encourage our patients to make without much sacrifice.”

In the current study, the authors looked at whether the frequency of adding salt to foods was associated with incident heart disease risk in 176,570 participants from the UK Biobank. The study also reviewed the association between the frequency of adding salt to foods and the DASH diet as it relates to heart disease risk.

The DASH-style diet was developed to prevent hypertension by restricting the consumption of red and processed meats and focusing on vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts and legumes.  While this diet has yielded benefits in relation to reducing cardiovascular disease risk, a clinical trial recently found that combining the DASH diet with sodium reduction was more beneficial for certain cardiac biomarkers, including cardiac injury, strain and inflammation.

Overall, study participants with a lower frequency of adding salt to foods were more likely to be:

  • Women
  • White
  • Have a Lower Body Mass Index
  • More Likely to Have Moderate Alcohol Consumption
  • Less Likely to be Current Smokers
  • More Physically Active
  • Have a Higher Prevalence of High Blood Pressure and Chronic Kidney Disease, and
  • A Lower Prevalence of Cancer.

These participants were also more likely to stay on a DASH-style diet. They also ate more fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, whole grains, low-fat dietary but less sugar-sweetened drinks, or red/processed meats than those with a higher frequency of adding salt to foods.

The researchers found the association of adding salt to foods with heart disease risk was stronger in participants of lower socioeconomic status and in current smokers. A higher modified DASH diet score was linked to a lower risk of heart disease events.

Reference: Sci Tech Daily (Dec. 26, 2022) “Recent Research Reveals a Simple Trick To Lower Heart Disease Risk”

Suggested Key Terms: Senior Health

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