Salt has been known as the ‘silent killer’ for a long time. It claims the lives of millions of people each year as it contributes to incidences of strokes and heart attacks.
Researchers have found that there is a direct link between lower levels of salt consumptions and the falling number of deaths related to heart disease.
However, they have stated that the amounts of salt consumption are still excessive.
The average salt consumption has fallen by about 15% over the last few years, while deaths related to heart disease declined by 40% and deaths related to strokes declined by 42%. The reduction in salt consumption is said to be the reason for these statistics as it lowers blood pressure.
The researchers, from Queen Mary University London, the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, and Barts, stated that the lowering of salt consumption is an important factor in the decline in blood pressure between 2003 and 2011. The resultant drop in mortality rates was viewed as ‘considerable progress.’
The researchers have pointed out however that the average salt consumption during 2011 was still high at 8.1 grams a day, which is 35% higher than the recommended amount of 6 grams. They issued warnings that 58% of females and 80% of males had a daily salt intake far above the level that has been recommended.
The research, which was published in BMJ Open, looked at the risk of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure of 31500 people. The data was obtained from the Health Survey England results for 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2011.
The decline in blood pressure levels is considered to be the result of less smoking, a reduction in salt consumption, an increase in the consumption of vegetables and fruit, lower cholesterol levels, as well as the improvements experienced in the treatment methods for cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and blood pressure.
Salt consumption was taken from 3000 people who took part in the National Diet and Nutrition Surveys between 2003 and 2011. The data related to this survey showed that consumption declined by 1.4 grams, from 9.5 grams to 8.1 grams per day.
A Senior Dietician at the British Heart Foundation, Victoria Taylor, found the study to be interesting. She stated that while the decline in average salt consumption is a positive change, the recommended intake for adults is still way above the recommended level.
She also said that since most of the salt that we consume is already in the food we eat, the onus rests on the food industry to target a reduction in the level of salt in foodstuffs.
Image credit: Karyn Christner