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Sprinkling salt substitutes on meals could add years to your life

Risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease fell by 13 percent.

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Salad with herring,beets,onions and green peas.Salad of salted herring fillet
(Chatham172 via Shutterstock)

By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

Sprinkling salt substitutes on meals could add years to your life, according to new research.

A global study showed they lower risks of premature death from cardiovascular disease and any cause by 13 and eleven percent, respectively.

They also reduce heart attacks and strokes by 11 percent. Eating too much salt can trigger clots - cutting off blood supply to major organs.

The replacements taste just like the real thing - and are already available in most supermarkets.

They contain added potassium and less sodium - protecting against high blood pressure, say the international team.

Corresponding author Dr. Maoyi Tian, of Harbin Medical University, China, said: "The magnitude of the cardiovascular protection afforded is likely to be determined by the magnitude of the fall in blood pressure.

"Blood pressure-mediated beneficial effects of salt substitute on clinical outcomes appear likely to be accrued across a broad range of populations without adverse effects.

"These findings are unlikely to reflect the play of chance and support the adoption of salt substitutes in clinical practice and public health policy as a strategy to reduce dietary sodium intake, increase dietary potassium intake, lower blood pressure and prevent major cardiovascular events."

They are based on results pooled from 21 clinical trials involving nearly 30,000 people in Europe, the Western Pacific Region, the Americas and South-East Asia.

Salt substitutes lowered blood pressure - in all participants. It describes the strength with which blood pushes on the sides of arteries.

Overall, 'systolic' and 'diastolic' readings dropped by 4.61 and 1.61 mmHg (millimeters of mercury), respectively.

The former reflects the heart's force when it pumps and the latter when it rests between beats. Major organs are vulnerable to stress if either is too high.

Each 10 percent lower proportion of sodium chloride was linked to a 1.53 and 0.95 mmHg greater fall in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, respectively.

About 1 out of 2 adults in the United States has hypertension.

Many go undiagnosed. It has been dubbed the 'silent killer' as there are few symptoms.

culinary, baking and people concept - happy smiling young woman cooking food on kitchen at home and adding salt
(Ground Picture/Shutterstock)

Dr. Tian said: "Excess dietary sodium and insufficient dietary potassium are both
well-established causes of high blood pressure.

"Randomised trials demonstrate that reduced dietary sodium consumption or potassium supplementation lowers blood pressure.

"Sodium-reduced, potassium-enriched salt substitutes, in which a proportion of the sodium chloride in regular salt is replaced with potassium chloride, combine these
blood pressure-lowering effects."

Reductions were consistent irrespective of geography, age, sex, history of high blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) and baseline levels of blood pressure and urinary sodium and potassium.

There was no evidence that higher dietary potassium was associated with any health harms

Standard table sea or rock salt is virtually 100 percent sodium chloride. In substitutes like LoSalt in Sainsbury's up to two-thirds of the sodium is replaced by potassium.

The salty-tasting mineral is lacking in many people's diets. One in six Britons have intakes that put them at risk of deficiency.

It is needed for healthy muscles and nerves — and for normal blood pressure. Studies have previously linked the supplements to lower blood pressure.

A quarter teaspoon serving of Lo Salt contains 450mg potassium - 23 percent of an adult's daily amount.

Processed foods already contain high levels of salt, a habit that has prompted calls for the food industry to switch to low-sodium salt as well.

Added Dr. Tian: "Since the benefits of salt substitutes on clinical outcomes are mediated primarily by blood pressure reduction, comparing the effects of salt substitution on blood pressure will provide insight into the likelihood that effects on clinical outcomes will be replicated in other populations.

"Accordingly, this systematic review summarised the effects of salt substitute on blood pressure and clinical outcomes for all available trials and assessed the constancy of the findings across diverse population groups and geographies."

Cardiovascular disease is the world's number one killer, claiming around 18 million lives annually.

The study is in Heart.

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