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    Want To Avoid Heart Problems? Eat Less Salt

    By Margarita Nahapetyan

    The American Heart Association has announced the new statistics according to which a decrease of salt intake just by 1 gram, could lead to 250,000 fewer cases of heart problems and 200,000 fewer death cases in Americans over a decade.

    A new study's led researcher, Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco, says that a very small reduction of the salt consumption, could have great benefits for health in the population. "It was a surprise to see the magnitude of the impact on the population, given the very small reductions in salt we were modeling," the scientist said.

    For the investigation, a computer simulation, called the Coronary Heart Disease Policy Model, was used in order to figure out the impact of salt reduction by 0 grams to 6 grams on heart problems and deaths from heart disease. According to the model, there could be more than 800,000 "years of life saved between 2010 and 2019, for every single gram of salt taken out from meals. And if it came to six grams a day of salt removal from a diet, there would be 1.4 million fewer cases of heart disease and 1.1 million fewer lethal outcomes.

    As to other numbers, it was revealed that cutting salt consumption just by 3 grams on a daily basis, would lead to six per cent fewer new cases of heart conditions, eight per cent fewer heart attacks and 3 per cent fewer mortality. These health improvements would be even more meaningful for African-American population, who are predisposed to high blood pressure and whose blood pressure is typically more sensitive to salt. In case of salt reduction, there would be a 10 per cent decrease in new cases of heart disease among African-Americans, 13 per cent fewer heart attacks and 6 per cent fewer mortality, reported the study.

    Though there has been a lot of evidence that salt intake is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease, most of people still have continued to increase their use of salt during the past several decades, the researchers said. Salt consumption rates increased by 50 per cent since the 1970s. In the United States , adults consume, on an average basis, 9 to 12 grams of salt daily, which is equal to 3,600 to 4,800 milligrams of sodium intake. This amounts are far in excess than is recommended by many health organizations - 5 to 6 grams of salt a day, or 2,000 to 2,400 mg of sodium. There are 0.4 grams of sodium present in each gram of salt.

    The authors strongly recommend that food industry takes important steps and considers reducing salt in processed foods. Dr. Bobbins-Domingo says that no matter how people try to cut their salt intake at home, it will be very hard to achieve a desired reduction, as most of salt they consume comes from processed foods, and not from the salt shaker. The study suggests that policy makers who regulate and control the food industry, will do a great favor to the U.S. population and contribute to their health, by decreasing even insignificant amounts of salt in their processed products.

    The findings were presented this week at the American Heart Association's Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention annual conference, in Palm Harbor, Florida.

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