Study: Adding less salt to food may reduce your risk of heart disease

Hand of female shakes salt from a glass container.

You might want to hold back on the salt shaker a bit more: That’s because a new study showed that adding less of the white stuff to food can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, particularly heart failure and ischemic heart disease. The study, funded by NHLBI, appeared in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.   

Researchers have known for some time that a high sodium intake can raise blood pressure, which is a known risk factor for heart disease. But epidemiological studies linking high sodium intake to heart disease have produced conflicting results.  Recent studies suggest that the frequency at which an individual adds salt to food may play a key role in cardiovascular outcomes. 

In the study, researchers studied whether the frequency of adding salt to food was linked to heart disease among nearly 200,000 participants from the UK Biobank.  The researchers followed the participants for a median of 11.8 years. The participants did not have heart disease when the study began. The study also examined the association between the frequency of adding salt to food and following the DASH diet as it relates to heart disease.  

The researchers found a lower frequency of adding salt to food was associated with a lower risk of developing heart disease over time. They found that heart disease was lowest in those who combined a DASH-style diet with a lower frequency of adding salt.