Too little salt is also unhealthy: in one study, the death rate increased due to a lower salt intake
Insufficient salt intake can cause lasting damage to the cardiovascular system. Researchers found this out during a study by the University of Leuven. Too little salt can even be more harmful to the organism than too much. So far, the simple formula was: Better not eat salt to endanger blood pressure or circulation. The study results now provide a completely new picture of the topic.
Too little salt increases the death rate for cardiovascular diseases Those who eat too much salt live unhealthily. This health advice of many doctors is now the standard. However, even a low salt intake, which is detectable in the urine, indicates a connection between a higher death rate in cardiovascular problems. Belgian researchers from the University of Leuven came to the surprising result so far that too little salt can even be more harmful to the heart and circulation than too much. During a long-term study with around 3,500 subjects, the researchers analyzed the average salt consumption of the participants using the urine. In the course of the study, it became clear that a below-average excretion of salt was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular death. If, on the other hand, a rather above-average salt excretion was measured, a direct context could not be derived.
As the doctors in the science magazine "Jama" write, the current recommendation by cardiologists to save salt cannot be substantiated by the study results in relation to the risk of death. The argument that salt consumption should be restricted due to the risk of high blood pressure, for example to avoid heart attacks, has not been refuted. Rather, the risk of death from cardiovascular disease was examined during the study. A lower, below-average salt consumption could not reduce the risk of dying from a heart disease, as the researchers write. The opposite was more the case.
Low blood pressure reduction through salt saving The study authors do not want their results to be misunderstood. It is still scientifically confirmed that lower salt consumption has hypotensive effects in hypertensive patients. Therefore, patients who have been prescribed salt saving should continue to follow the doctor's instructions, study leader Katarzyna Stolarz-Skrzypek emphasized in the report. Nevertheless, the observations made must be incorporated into further research work, because the doctors observed a falling death rate in cardiac patients who had a higher salt content in the urine.
Death rate with high salt consumption lower In the eight-year study, 3681 people took part who did not have known heart diseases at the beginning of the long-term study. In the course of the study work, the urine values and in some cases the blood pressure values were measured continuously. At the end of the study, all deaths related to cardiovascular diseases were examined. A total of 50 subjects who had low urine salt levels died of heart disease. 24 participants who showed average values died and people with high to very high salt excretion died in exactly ten cases.
The development of blood pressure values was also observed in some subjects. Apparently, according to the researchers, the lower salt consumption had only a slight effect on high blood pressure. Only the systolic value (the higher blood pressure value that arises when the heart contracts and presses the blood into the vessels) increased with a higher consumption of salt. "The connection between systolic blood pressure and salt excretion cannot be transferred to lower mortality or improved survival chances," the study authors argue. "On the contrary, low salt excretion predicted higher mortality from cardiovascular diseases." In previous intervention studies, researchers examined how blood pressure changed when people consumed only 5 grams of salt a day instead of 10. These studies also showed only slight changes in blood pressure.
How much salt is healthy now? Salt is just as vital as daily hydration. The sodium in the salt regulates the water balance in humans. A daily salt intake of 5 grams is widely recommended for adults. Whether daily additional salting is still necessary today depends entirely on the individual's eating habits. Salt is already hidden in numerous ready-made foods. So if you eat a lot of ready-made pizza and hamburgers, you should avoid adding salt. Half a pizza from the supermarket alone contains an average of 3.3 grams of salt. But 100 grams of sausage or cheese can also contain up to six grams of salt. As a rule, the sodium content on the packaging can be multiplied by 2.5 to calculate the amount of salt in the product. If you do a lot of sport, especially in summer, and tend to sweat excessively, you should pay attention to additional salt consumption. Because too little salt can have life-threatening consequences, because it will make you feel thirsty and threaten to dry out. If you suffer from cardiovascular diseases, you should discuss daily salt intake with your doctor. (sb)
Consumer advocates: Too much salt in children's sausages
Too much harmful salt in ready meals
Less salt prevents heart disease
Image: Sybille Daden / pixelio.de