Low-Sodium Diet Slashes Heart Risks

Low-Sodium Diet Slashes Heart Risks

Getting just a smidge less of this in your diet could really help your heart. We're talking about salt intake.

In a study, eating a low-sodium diet—roughly 1 less teaspoon of salt a day—was associated with a significantly lower risk of having a stroke or developing heart disease.

The heart/salt connection
Sure, you know being loosey-goosey with the salt shaker can lead to blood pressure troubles. But how much impact does a little pinch have? Quite a bit, it turns out. In a scientific analysis of 13 different studies involving data from nearly 200,000 people, researchers found that the reduction in stroke risk from consuming 5 less grams of salt a day—a little less than a teaspoon's worth—was about 23 percent. And the reduction in heart disease risk was 17 percent. So a lower salt intake could mean a lot more life.

Live well on less
Salt isn't all bad. Our bodies need a certain amount of it to help control blood pressure, send nerve signals, absorb nutrients and maintain proper fluid balances. But our bodies don't need much to do business—only about 1/4 teaspoon a day. The problem is that salt is added to just about everything that is prepackaged—even foods that don't taste salty, like breakfast cereals. So hide your salt shaker, read labels carefully and choose whole, fresh foods for a low-sodium diet whenever you can.

Here are a few more very important stroke stoppers.

Medically reviewed in June 2019.

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