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Monday 19th March 2018

Low-salt diet helps blood vessels

26th January 2009

While reducing salt intake has been shown to lower blood pressure, it may have another beneficial effect.


A new study found that people who eat a diet low in sodium also have improved blood vessel function.

The endothelium is a layer of cells that line the interior of blood vessels, regulating blood flow.

Researchers found a way to measure the impact of a low-salt diet on the functioning of the endothelium.

The adoption of a low-salt diet improved blood flow in patients with normal blood pressure classified as overweight or obese.

Endothelial function seemed unconnected with blood pressure, but the scientists concluded that it was also due to the restriction in salt intake.

Jennifer Keogh said that they found reducing dietary sodium led to a direct, positive impact on blood vessels.

Doctors usually recommend that people who want to be healthy restrict their daily limit of sodium to 2,400 milligrams.

This amount equals roughly one teaspoon of table salt.

Nutrition information must be consulted when eating processed foods, since sodium also comes in other forms, such as sodium benzoate, sodium hydroxide, and monosodium glutamate, or MSG.

Gerald Fletcher said that the average American eats much more than the recommended daily amount of sodium.

He said that processed foods are often loaded with salt, even those that don't taste salty.

In the study, 29 men and women either classified as overweight or obese ate a low salt diet or a standard diet consisting of 7.5 grammes per day.

After two weeks on their assigned diets, the participants swapped places.

None of them had high blood pressure to begin with.

Study participants on the low salt diet showed improvements in endothelial function, as well as small reductions in systolic (top number) blood pressure but not diastolic (bottom number).

Keogh said that this study suggests but not proves that salt in the diet has an independent impact on blood vessel function.

In order to lower salt intake, the American Heart Association recommends always choosing fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables over their canned counterparts.


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