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Get the Facts Straight About Sodium, Ward Off Stroke and Protect Your Heart

Get the Facts Straight About Sodium, Ward Off Stroke and Protect Your Heart
PHOTOGRAPH: NIH NHLBI | Photo shows one strategy for cutting down on sodium – cook at home.

There are many contributory factors to stroke, and the incidence of this life-threatening medical condition can be prevented by arming yourself with better knowledge. Studies and reports linking high salt intake to a heightened risk of stroke, for instance, have caught the attention of the consuming public. It also drew attention to the importance of determining the right sodium level so as not to impair health.

Consuming “no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day is best for ideal heart health,” Dr. Elliott Antman, immediate past president of the American Heart Association said. Other health organizations recommend higher level limits for the broader population.

The AHA representatives opined, though, that certain people should not drastically lower their sodium intake especially if they have specific but uncommon illnesses. Those who are regularly working in a condition marked by extreme heat may likewise require a certain level of salt in their bodies.

A pooled analysis of data from four studies was featured in the scientific journal,  Lancet. The study, published last year, associated high sodium intake with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and death in hypertensive populations. It sheds light on the fact that lowering sodium intake to a medically approved level is best targeted at individuals suffering from hypertension.

Various studies create confusion

Physicians collaboratively working to shine a light on serious illnesses, like stroke and heart disease, have cited how various studies may have caused some confusion on this health matter. In places like New York City, a recent informational campaign like “Break Up With Salt” underscores one thing: sodium can be sneaky (coming from many different things like restaurant food and processed prepackaged foodstuff) and it helps to be informed and to practice mindful eating.

To gain the upper hand and not high sodium intake pose danger to your health, heed the advice of smart consumers – read product labels and opt for those without extra sodium, voice your request to hold the salt when dining out, and strive to prepare your own meals at home to have control on salt and use spice & herb substitutes instead.

As with most things ingested, moderation is key. America’s national guidelines advise that adults should eat no more than roughly one teaspoon and children should consume less.  Things can get tricky because certain foodstuff comes pre-salted or with sauce.

Ditch the cheap salty junk food

In the UK, around 75 percent of salt consumed is unknowingly ingested when people eat processed and restaurant foods. Some studies have shown that a 5g per day higher salt intake is associated with a 24 percent higher risk of stroke.

Realizing the downside, countries like the US and the UK have implemented successful salt reduction campaigns. By opting for unsalted snacks, ditching junk food as well as dishes with many ingredients that tend to be high in sodium (particularly burgers), you may be safeguarding your heart health and putting stroke at bay.


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