Replacing salt with another condiment can reduce the risk of hypertension that afflicts many Latinos, according to a study

People who reduce the amount of salt in their diet by substituting it with another seasoning can significantly reduce their risk of developing high blood pressure, a study published Monday suggests.

The report, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (Journal of the American College of Cardiology), analyzed data from hundreds of men and women, aged 55 and older, who were in senior care facilities in China.

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The data comes from an earlier, larger study, called DECIDE-Salt, which included 1,612 participants. For the new analysis, the researchers focused on 157 women and 454 men who had healthy blood pressure levels and were fed foods with the usual amount of salt or a salt substitute.

Researchers found that reducing salt by more than a third by swapping another mineral supplement (salty-tasting potassium chloride) along with other flavorings such as mushrooms, seaweed and lemon, protected against high blood pressure over a two-year period.

Most Americans consume too much salt, about 3,500 milligrams a day, according to the American Heart Association.Cavan Images/Getty Images

Dr. Yangfeng Wu, lead author of the study and executive director of the Peking University Clinical Research Institute in Beijing, said that although the study was conducted in China, the findings should apply to people in other countries, including the United States. Anyone can benefit from replacing salt with a substitute, whether they have high blood pressure or not, Wu said.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can increase the risk of numerous chronic diseases, including heart and kidney diseases, diabetes and dementia.

“People need to be more aware of labels and really be aware of what they put in their bodies.”

Dr. Michelle Bloom CARDIO-ONCOLOGY PROGRAM DIRECTOR and professor at NYU

Most Americans consume too much salt, about 3,500 milligrams a day, according to the American Heart Association. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration recommends that healthy adults consume no more than 2,300 mg (about half a teaspoon) of salt per day.

Potassium Chloride, which combines the essential supplement potassium with chloride, tastes and acts like table salt without adding harmful sodium to the diet. The recommended daily amount of potassium for people 19 years and older is 3,400 mg (about two-thirds of a teaspoon) for men and 2,600 mg (about half a teaspoon) for women.

Previous studies showed that salt substitutes could reduce blood pressure (particularly systolic) among people with hypertension, Wu said. “The present study extended the effect of salt substitutes to people with normal blood pressure,” Wu said.

Systolic (the top number in a blood pressure reading) indicates the amount of pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and pumps blood through the body. Diastolic (the bottom number) is the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats.

“High blood pressure is one of the leading factors contributing to deaths worldwide,” said Dr. Deepak Gupta, associate professor of medicine in the division of cardiovascular medicine at Vanderbilt Medical Center. “Diet clearly contributes,” he said.

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Gupta, who was not involved in the study, said the salt substitute helped reduce the amount of table salt, sodium chloride, consumed daily and add potassium.

“Americans in general have low levels of potassium in their diets,” Gupta said. “Having a potassium-enriched diet, even if nothing is done about sodium, is likely to have an impact on lowering blood pressure.”

The new study used a particular type of substitute, but in the US you can buy salt substitutes that completely or partially replace salt.

It may be challenging for people to reduce their salt intake long-term unless they find a satisfactory substitute, said Dr. George Dangas, professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine and chief of cardiology at Mount Sinai Queens, who does not participated in the study. the new research.

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“We live in a very salt-rich environment,” Dangas said. “We need to figure out how to make flavor-preserving supplements that improve compliance with salt reduction.”

Before increasing potassium intake, people should talk to their doctors, Dangas said. Some conditions, such as kidney disease, can cause high potassium levels, and adding more mineral can be dangerous.

The overall message of the study is that “limiting salt in the diet can lower blood pressure, which is very important for heart health,” said Dr. Michelle Bloom, system director of NYU Langone’s cardio-oncology program. Health and professor at New York University Grossman Long Island School of Medicine.

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“People need to be more aware of labels and really be aware of what they put in their bodies,” said Bloom, who was not involved in the study.

Even lowering blood pressure by a couple of points “can lead to a substantial decrease in the likelihood of heart attack, heart failure and stroke,” Bloom said. “The typical American diet contains a lot of processed and packaged foods that contain a lot of salt that people are often not aware of. “There are other ways to satisfy that part of a person’s appetite without salt, such as spices and lemon juice.”