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Reducing Stroke and Cardiovascular Disease Risk

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Reducing the average salt intake by half could prevent a substantial number of strokes and cases of heart disease in most Western countries, reports a study recently published in the medical journal BMJ. Two out of every three people with diabetes die from stroke or heart disease.

Using a form of research known as meta-analysis, in which statistics from several studies are combined and examined, investigators from the “Federico II” University of Naples Medical School and the University of Warwick looked at a total of 177,025 people enrolled in 13 studies published from 1966 through 2008. Pooling the results, the researchers found that a 5-gram, or roughly one teaspoon, reduction in average daily salt intake was associated with a 23% decrease in stroke rate and a 17% decrease in the rate of cardiovascular disease.

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Current recommendations from the World Health Organization call for a daily salt intake of less than 5 grams (roughly 2,300 milligrams of sodium), and the US Department of Agriculture recommends a limit of 5.8 grams of salt each day. The average American consumes approximately 10 grams of salt daily.

According to the researchers, a reduction in the population’s average salt intake “could avert some one and a quarter million deaths from stroke and almost three million deaths from cardiovascular disease each year.”

To learn more, read the article “Shaking the Salt Habit Cuts Stroke, CV Disease” or see the study in BMJ. And for tips on reducing your salt intake, check out the miniseries “Shaking the Salt,” by Amy Campbell.

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