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The National Salt Reduction Initiative

from Johns Hopkins Health Alerts

Recent research suggests reducing salt can save lives and may lower blood pressure as effectively as increasing medication. Here’s what the research shows.

A January 2010 study in The New England Journal of Medicine estimated that cutting sodium intake by 1,200 mg per day would cut the annual number of coronary heart disease cases by up to 120,000 and the number of annual deaths from any cause by up to 92,000. The study also suggested that reducing salt could save between $10 billion and $24 billion in yearly health care costs.

A study published in 2009 in the journal Hypertension found that in treating resistant hypertension (blood pressure that remains too high despite three or more antihypertensive medications), decreasing salt intake was more beneficial than taking additional types of medications. The study looked at 12 patients with resistant hypertension who had either a high sodium intake (5,700 mg per day) or a low sodium intake (1,150 mg per day) over a week. Those on the low-sodium diet saw their systolic blood pressure drop by about 15 percent on average and their diastolic drop by about 11 percent.

In January 2010, New York City announced the National Salt Reduction Initiative, to encourage manufacturers to reduce salt in packaged and restaurant food. The New York City-led coalition hopes to reduce salt in these foods by 25 percent within five years. After a similar initiative in the United Kingdom, food manufacturers there reduced the salt in some foods by up to 40 percent.

Think you'll miss the salt? Research suggests that after six to 12 weeks of a low-sodium diet, the high-sodium foods you once loved may taste too salty. In addition to reducing sodium, health experts urge a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and fresh meats and low in processed foods. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is one example of a healthful eating pattern. It's rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, dry beans, and nonfat/low-fat dairy foods. A DASH-style diet is also high in potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fiber, which combine to lower blood pressure.

Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician.

5 Myths about Exercise and Older Adults

5 Myths about Exercise and Older Adults Myth 1: There no point to exercising. I’m going to get old anyway. Fact:Exercise and strength training helps you look and feel younger and stay active longer. Regular physical activity lowers your risk for a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, high […]

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