An extra teaspoon a day of salt jacks up the chance of stroke
Consuming an extra teaspoon a day of salt jacks up a person's risk of stroke by 23 percent and the risk of developing heart disease by 17 percent, according to a new study.
"This research adds to an already significant body of evidence that shows we could make major public-health gains if we were to cut sodium in the food supply," said Kevin Willis, director of partnerships at the Canadian Stroke Network.
The research, published in the British Medical Journal, was led by Pasquale Strazzullo of the University of Naples in Italy.
His team compiled the results of 13 studies, involving more than 170,000 people, that were published between 1996 and 2008. The researchers examined the direct correlation between salt consumption and heart disease and stroke, and found that more than 10,000 heart attacks and strokes could be directly attributed to excess salt consumption.
Strazzullo and his team estimated that if people worldwide consumed no more than the recommended upper limit of five grams of salt daily (one teaspoon - or half the average consumption today), as many 3 million cardiovascular deaths and 250,000 stroke deaths could be averted annually.
The "projected benefits of salt reduction are substantial," said Lawrence Appel, a professor of human nutrition at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md.
He said that, if anything, the new research likely underestimates the negative impacts of salt consumption because there is "systematic under-reporting of salt intake."