Study: Too Much Table Salt Can Lead to Premature Death

A new study from the European Heart Journal suggests increased salt intake can lower a person’s life expectancy. People who always add salt to their meals faced a 28% increased risk of dying prematurely compared with those who never or rarely add salt. In an interview with WTOP, Permanente adult and family medicine Jason Singh, MD, explained the results of the study and offered tips for eating healthy.

The study followed 501,379 participants for an average of nine years. Researchers found that compared to people who rarely added salt to foods, people who always added salt could lose two years off their life.

“The researchers also found that increasing the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables weakened the association between salt use at mealtimes and premature death,” Dr. Singh explained.

Dr. Singh, who did not participate in the research, explained that the risk of premature death was lower in those who ate more potassium-rich fruits and vegetables because potassium helps process sodium out of the body.

“For me, [the study] really just emphasized our recommendations to modify eating behaviors to improve health, especially toward cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Singh said.

Dr. Singh offered some quick tips for reducing sodium intake:

  • Start looking at food labels.
  • Avoid canned soups and processed foods, such as boxed rice mixes that have seasoning packets.
  • Compare the amount of sodium in different products.
  • Remember that low sodium food products contain less than 140 milligrams per serving.
  • Try to keep your total daily sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams.
  • Look for hidden sources of sodium such as ketchup, salad dressings and soy sauce.