Eating too much salt can kill you. Excessive salt intake will kill an estimated 1.6 million people worldwide this year. Four out of five deaths will occur in low- and middle-income countries, and nearly half will be among people under the age of 70.
These deaths from excessive salt intake can be prevented. Especially since the daily rates of salt consumption in most countries exceed the upper limit recommended by the World Health Organization, which is 5 grams per day, to record a global average of 10.1 grams, double the maximum.
Eating less salt could save millions of lives. But this has always been difficult to implement in diets. There is a tendency to gradually reduce salt in food, but the food industry does not have incentives to reduce the use of the sodium component in foods, but rather there are likely to be significant incentives to maintain or increase current levels, as well as a lack of what might serve as a substitute for salt. It gives the same taste.
A study published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” showed that the possibility of eating diluted sodium salt may reduce sodium consumption and save a life. Dilute sodium salt replaces 25% of the sodium with potassium, which has similar properties and tastes similar to regular salt.
Potassium salts provide a double benefit. Reducing sodium lowers blood pressure and saves lives, while increasing potassium, which is not consumed by the majority of people in many countries, including the United States, also lowers blood pressure and improves heart health.
The results of this groundbreaking study, conducted by the George Institute for Global Health in China, show that low-sodium salt substitutes save lives and prevent heart attacks and strokes. Low sodium salt reduced the risk of death by 12%, the risk of stroke by 14%, and the total cardiovascular risk (strokes and heart attacks combined) by 13%.
To put this in context, a 13% reduction in vascular disease risk in the United States would mean protection against more than 200,000 heart attacks and strokes annually, while globally, it would prevent millions of heart attacks and strokes.
The study, which is the largest and longest on tests to find alternatives to sodium, took more than five years and involved 21,000 people with a history of stroke or poor blood pressure control (those at a higher risk of heart attacks or strokes).
It showed that reduced sodium salt protects against heart attacks and strokes, and is an acceptable alternative that can be easily adapted to most people’s diets. In addition, the study showed that there is no risk of serious negative symptoms.
These findings seem promising, especially in low- or middle-income countries, where the majority of sodium comes from salt added during cooking or while eating at home.
The results from this trial are particularly promising in low- and middle-income countries – where most sodium intake comes from salt added during cooking or eating at home, with the right incentives in place, such as a tax on regular salt or subsidies for reduced sodium salt to ensure that Its price is equal to the price of regular salt or even lower, which encourages its consumption.
These interventions could be expanded to include prepared foods and restaurant food, which are the primary source of excessive sodium intake in higher-income countries.
This study is in addition to previous studies on the possibility of saving life by adopting diluted sodium salt as an alternative, as a previous pilot study in China showed that adopting diluted sodium salt as an alternative in the country may save the lives of 461,000 people annually.
This benefit was revealed a few years ago, a study conducted at a veterans retirement center in Taiwan, as it showed that diluted sodium salt reduces the proportion of deaths from cardiovascular diseases, health care expenses, and even the group of veterans who eat diluted sodium salt live longer. longer.
Of course, not all interventions are perfect. People who follow a diet that reduces potassium (such as people on dialysis) should avoid diluted sodium salt. However, the daily potassium intake from the reduced sodium salt in a typical diet is similar to that found in one or two bananas.
High levels of potassium in food, which ranged between 10% and 35%, and reached 25% in the published study, may give a metallic taste with some foods (such as soups and sauces). But it is possible to overcome these challenges with a clear modification of some foods and recipes.
What should governments do to promote the use of dilute sodium salt?
To be available for sale (the study indicates its presence in more than a quarter of the world’s countries), at a reduced price, and to seek to convince consumers, retailers and producers to increase its use.
– Support this product to reduce its price, which is higher than the current salt price, at present.
Giving incentives to manufacturers to introduce it as an alternative salt in the production of their foods.
Raising awareness about the benefits of diluted sodium salt
Adopting complementary policies such as setting goals to reduce the use of salt in the food industry, and using signs warning against excessive salt intake that may contribute to an increase in the use of reduced sodium salt in prepared foods.
The increased use of diluted sodium salt will reduce the expenses of medical treatments, and the poor productivity caused by high blood pressure and heart disease, as more than 25,000 deaths are recorded daily due to blood pressure. The expected direct medical cost is $370 billion annually.