There is big news out of Canada concerning salt. It’s no shock that a diet high in salt has negative health consequences — we all know that by know. But the level of such consequences is higher than even nutritionists would have imagined. A new study published in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology has some interesting answers to the question: if everyone lowered their salt intake, what would happen?
Well, over the course of a year two things would happen:
1. Health-care costs across the country would be trimmed by an incredible $430 million.
2. About one million cases of high blood pressure would disappear.
The researchers were admittedly shocked by the findings. That one million Canadians (population under 40 million) could set their blood pressure back to normal by cutting down on salt alone is a tremendous figure. It also means the use of medications to control blood pressure would fall by 23%. Doctors’ clinic around the country would have 6.3% fewer visitors each year as well.
Since Canada and the U.S. have the same profile regarding eating habits, it is safe to assume all of this applies across the board. One more thing to add to this news is the fact that researchers underestimated the numbers. They looked only at costs directly linked to high blood pressure (a.k.a. hypertension). They didn’t factor in secondary problems such as heart attacks and strokes caused by hypertension.
A lot of foods have natural salt in them, aside from the potato chips we all know are high in sodium. Having a saltshaker on the kitchen table is unnecessary. It is one of many reasons why we get far more salt than we need each day. According to Statistics Canada data, it’s safe to eat three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt daily. Most Canadians get two teaspoons a day. The average adult gets nearly 1,000 mg more than the maximum amount of salt that can be considered okay for the body.
Consumer education and a reduction in salt by food makers are two ways to help rebalance this ship. Lowering your salt intake is the easiest thing to do to lower your blood pressure. A quick tip: if you taste the salt in something you eat, it’s too high.