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How much salt do I need to cut from my diet to benefit my heart?

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

In a recent study, eating roughly one less teaspoon of salt a day was associated with a significantly lower risk of having a stroke or developing heart disease.

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 five less grams of salt a day -- a little less than a teaspoon's worth -- was about 23%. And the reduction in heart disease risk was 17%. So a little less salt could mean a lot more life.

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 a quarter 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 whenever you can.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.