How replacing salt with a substitute could be a game changer for cardiovascular health

Apr 16, 2024
Salt substitution were found to be a simple intervention with broad benefits across various cardiovascular conditions, including stroke. Source: Getty Images.

A recent study has uncovered a simple yet potent weapon in the battle against cardiovascular disease: salt substitutes.

The study, conducted by researchers at Bond University, discovered that replacing ordinary salt with a substitute could slash the risk of death from cardiovascular issues by a whopping 17 per cent.

Cardiovascular disease is responsible for approximately one-third of all global fatalities, with high salt intake contributing to 10 per cent of these deaths. Despite these alarming figures, sodium consumption worldwide continues to surpass the recommended daily limit.

However, Bond University researchers Hannah Greenwood and Dr Loai Albarqouni, said switching table salt with a substitute containing reduced sodium and increased potassium may offer a simple achievable strategy to reduce sodium intake and improve health outcomes.

Greenwood, the lead author and a PhD candidate at Bond University’s Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare, explained that salt substitutes contain less sodium and more potassium compared to regular salt.

“We know that replacing some or all of the sodium chloride in salt with potassium chloride has minimal taste ramifications, but significant cardiovascular impacts,” she said.

“These include, in some instances, reductions in blood pressure comparable to reductions associated with blood-pressure lowering medications.

“What we found in this review is that this could be a simple and effective way to achieve significant health benefits for a large number of people.”

In their systematic review, which focused on 16 randomised control trials from various regions, including China and Taiwan, Greenwood and her team found compelling evidence supporting the long-term substitution of regular table salt with salt substitute products.

“We found evidence that salt substitution can reduce mortality from cardiovascular events including but not limited to stroke, myocardial infarction, and heart failure by about 17 percent and death from any cause by about 12 percent,” Greenwood revealed.

Dr Albarqouni, the senior author and Assistant Professor at Bond University, said the study underscores the substantial public health benefits associated with alterations in eating habits.

He emphasised that salt substitution presents a simple intervention with broad benefits across various cardiovascular conditions, including stroke.

Professor Paul Glasziou, the Director of the Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare, added another layer to the discussion, stressing the importance of health educators considering the effectiveness of non-drug interventions more thoroughly.

“Non-pharmaceutical treatments – which include exercise, psychotherapy, manual procedures, and self-management – are often as, or more, effective and safe as their drug counterpart,” Professor Glasziou said.

“However, they are generally poorly described, marketed, and taught and therefore often underused in healthcare.”

This study suggests that small changes in diet can have big impacts on health, highlighting the value of exploring lifestyle changes to improve health.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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