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Risk of heart disease could be slashed with one tiny life change

The results are regardless of people’s lifestyle.

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By Alice Clifford via SWNS

Shaking less salt on your food at the table could reduce the risk of heart disease, according to a new study from Tulane University in New Orleans.

This risk drops even more with people who followed a DASH diet, which includes avoiding red and processed meats and instead eating vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts and legumes.

While the DASH diet has shown positive results in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, combining this diet with a low salt intake is an even better way to keep your heart healthy.

The results are regardless of people’s lifestyle and whether they have any pre-existing diseases.

High salt diets can cause a rise in blood pressure, or hypertension, which can lead to heart disease and stroke.

Nearly half of adults in the United States (47%, or 116 million) have hypertension, according to the CDC.

To find out whether the frequency of adding salt to foods was linked with the risk of heart disease, researchers studied 176,570 participants from the UK Biobank.

Each participant filled in questionnaires about how often they add salt to food, not including salt used in cooking.

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They were also asked if they had changed their diets in the last five years and completed one to five rounds of 24-hour dietary recalls over three years.

The team also collected data about heart disease through medical history and data on hospital admissions, questionnaires and death register data.

Dr. Lu Qi, HCA Regents Distinguished Chair and professor at the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans, said: “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.

“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.”

The study also found that people with a lower frequency of adding salt to their food were more likely to be women.

They were also more likely to be white, have a lower body mass index, have moderate alcohol consumption, follow a DASH diet and be more physically active. They were also less likely to be current smokers.

The researchers discovered that the link of adding salt to foods with heart disease risk was stronger in participants of lower socioeconomic status, as well as in current smokers.

Dr. Sara Ghoneim, a gastroenterology fellow at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, said: “The study is promising, builds on previous reports, and alludes to the potential impact of long-term salt preferences on total cardiovascular risk.”

She added “A major limitation of the study is the self-reported frequency of adding salt to foods and the enrolment of participants only from the UK, limiting generalizability to other populations with different eating behaviors.

“The findings of the present study are encouraging and are poised to expand our understanding of salt-related behavioral interventions on cardiovascular health.”

The study is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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