The World Health Organization recommends that you ensure that your daily salt intake does not exceed a teaspoon per day (5 grams). However, most people get it in large quantities – about 9-12 grams per day. Excess sodium increases blood pressure and increases the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease.
There have been discussions in the scientific community for a long time about the advisability of replacing salt with its alternative with a reduced sodium level, but there has been no strong evidence of the effectiveness of this measure until now. The international study, carried out with the participation of the George Institute for Global Health (Australia), is the first of its kind.
The study began in 2014 in 600 villages in five provinces of China, with the participation of about 21,000 residents. The average age of the volunteers was 65.4 years, the ratio of men was approximately the same. About 72.6% had a previous stroke, and 88.4% suffered from hypertension.
Half of the participants were provided with a free supply of salt substitute containing 75% sodium chloride and 25% potassium chloride. In common table salt, the sodium chloride content ranges from 97% (second grade) to 99.7% (extra). Volunteers were also advised to use the substitute more sparingly than salt to further reduce sodium chloride intake as much as possible.
The observations were carried out for about five years, during this period more than 3 thousand participants suffered a stroke, over 4 thousand people died.
Data analysis showed that the risk of stroke was reduced in the salt substitute group of volunteers, with a prevalence of 29 per 1,000 person-years versus 34 per 1,000 person-years among people who did not give up salt. This indicator reflects the number of strokes that occur among 1000 people from a certain group, if they are monitored throughout the year.
The study authors also found a reduction in the risk of serious cardiovascular events (non-fatal strokes, heart attacks, cardiac death) among those who used a salt substitute over a five-year period: 49 per 1,000 person-years versus 56 per 1,000 person-years. among consumers of common salt. The overall mortality rate among volunteers who reduced sodium intake was 39 per 1,000 person-years versus 45 per 1,000 person-years. Scientists have not identified any serious side effects of potassium chloride consumption.
“Recent simulations have shown that 365,000 strokes and 461,000 premature deaths can be avoided annually in China alone if the salt substitute is proven to be effective. Our research provides clear evidence that this measure can be implemented very quickly and at low cost, ”said study lead author Bruce Neal of the George Institute for Global Health.
The scientist added that a salt analogue with a reduced sodium content is very easy to manufacture and does not cost much more than table salt. So, in China, a kilogram of table salt costs about $ 1.08, and a substitute costs $ 1.62.