Skipping salt could slash heart disease risk by nearly 20%

Skipping the salt could slash heart disease risk by nearly 20%, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology, which was held in Amsterdam this week.

Skipping salt could slash heart disease risk by nearly 20%

A new study presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology found that people who never add salt to their food have an 18% lower risk of developing atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat, compared to those who add salt to every meal.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at Kyungpook National University Hospital in South Korea, looked at data from more than 500,000 participants in the UK Biobank. The participants were followed for an average of 11 years.

The researchers found that people who switched from always salting their food to never salting it saw an 18% reduction in their risk of developing atrial fibrillation. People who sometimes added salt saw a 15% lower risk, and even those who usually salted their food saw a 12% reduced risk.

"This study provides further evidence that reducing salt intake can help to protect against heart disease," said Dr. Briana Costello, an interventional and general cardiologist at the Texas Heart Institute Center for Cardiovascular Care. "Salt increases your body's water retention and can increase blood pressure, which is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease."

Dr. Ronald Freudenberger, a cardiologist at Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute in Pennsylvania, agreed. "Salt causes the body to retain fluid," he said. "This can put strain on the heart and make it work harder, which can lead to problems such as atrial fibrillation."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that adults consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. However, the average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams per day.

In addition to avoiding adding salt to food, there are other ways to reduce your sodium intake. Here are a few tips:

  • Read food labels carefully and choose products that are low in sodium.
  • Limit your intake of processed foods, which are often high in sodium.
  • Cook more meals at home so you can control the amount of salt you use.
  • Use herbs and spices to flavor your food instead of salt.

If you are concerned about your sodium intake, talk to your doctor. They can help you develop a plan to reduce your risk of heart disease.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind:

  • Hidden sources of salt include bread, desserts, pastries, and diet drinks.
  • Even foods that are labeled as "low sodium" can still contain a significant amount of sodium.
  • If you need a "salt kick," try using a salt substitute, such as potassium chloride. However, be sure to read the label carefully, as some salt substitutes contain potassium, which can be dangerous for people with certain medical conditions.

By taking steps to reduce your sodium intake, you can help to protect your heart health and reduce your risk of developing atrial fibrillation.