The dangers of salt are already known. In excess, table salt (sodium chloride) increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, cancer and edema. However, the various studies on salt and the occurrence of diseases find contradictory results. This is why researcher Lu Qi launched a large-scale study, published on July 10 in the European Heart Journal, to explore the link between adding salt to your dishes and premature death.
190,000 participants / The habits of 190,000 participants studied
More than 500,000 Britons completed a questionnaire on the addition of salt to their dishes (apart from the salt used during the preparation of these dishes), as well as the type of food consumed.
The authors followed the participants for three years. A total of 190,000 people responded to follow-up calls. They then studied the life expectancy of the participants, by crossing the data of death certificates from the various British registers and the mortality rate of the population by age and sex. Any death that occurred before the age of 75 was considered premature.
Reduced life expectancy
A total of 18,474 premature deaths occurred. Adding salt very often was significantly associated with the risk of dying prematurely from cancer (stomach, liver, kidney, lung) and cardiovascular disease. This data had already been found in other works.
Second interesting observation: the more the participants consumed fruits and vegetables (rich in potassium), the less the association between the addition of salt and premature death was strong. Fruits and vegetables therefore appear to be a protective factor.
“For the first time, we have proven that systematically adding salt to one’s food was associated with a reduced life expectancy of 2.28 years for men and 1.5 for women compared to those who do not salt. never or rarely, adds Lu Qi, lead author of the study.
A study with limitations
This study has several limitations: it is an association and not a cause and effect relationship. Moreover, the high frequency of salt addition could be a marker of an unhealthy lifestyle or a low socioeconomic level, factors associated with higher mortality.
The study concerns the frequency of salting and not the quantity of salt, which is more complicated to assess due to the great variability from one day to the next. Finally, and this is the main limitation, the register from which the participants come is not representative of the general population since they participated on a voluntary basis.
Goal: less than 5 grams of salt per day
This study remains interesting and confirms certain tendencies.
“Our results support the idea that even a modest reduction in sodium intake is likely to lead to health benefits.,” Lu Qi concluded.
For years, the World Health Organization has recommended reducing salt intake to less than 5 grams per day, or one teaspoon. However, food, charcuterie in mind, is very often salty, soda water also provides sodium.
According to the National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health Safety, the French consume 8.7 grams of salt per day and the French, 6.8 grams. To achieve the objective set by the WHO, alternatives exist, with sodium-free or low-fat salts, aromatics, herbs, spices or even Japanese gomasio.
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