Research Finds Dietary Salt Substitutes Could Lower Your Risk For Cardiovascular Disease And Stroke

As a key player in nerve and muscle health, sodium is an essential mineral we obtain through our diet, explains the Cleveland Clinic. While beneficial when consumed in moderation, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that the majority of Americans are consuming over 3,400 milligrams of sodium daily. This amount exceeds the recommended daily intake of no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. To paint a picture, cardiologist Dr. Luke Laffin explains via the Cleveland Clinic that this means people may want to limit their daily sodium consumption to the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of salt.

"Too much sodium can cause fluid retention, which can increase blood pressure," Dr. Laffin told the Cleveland Clinic. This can have serious ramifications for our health, as high blood pressure can increase one's chance for cardiovascular disease down the line, including stroke and heart attack.

High amounts of sodium can be found in unlikely places, including processed foods, bread, and canned soups (per the Cleveland Clinic). As an alternative, findings from an in-depth 2022 scientific analysis published in the medical journal Heart reveal that using salt substitutes may help reduce one's risk for heart disease and other complications.

Salt substitutes may reduce risk of death

Researchers from a 2017 longitudinal study published in the American Heart Journal found that the use of a salt substitute reduced the risk of cardiovascular events and death in participants who were deemed at-risk for stroke or had previously had a stroke. In an effort to explore whether or not these findings proved true across alternate populations, the researchers compiled a meta-analysis published in Heart. It consisted of 21 studies conducted in various regions around the world, reports MedicalNewsToday.

Marked differences between the studies included trial duration, as well as varying levels of sodium chloride and potassium chloride in the salt substitutes (per MedicalNewsToday). Even so, salt substitutes were found to reduce patient blood pressure across age, sex, weight, and more. Furthermore, five of the studies showed that salt substitutes reduced patient risk for premature any-cause death by 11%. Patients were also 13% less likely to develop heart disease and were at an 11% lower risk for stroke or heart attack. No adverse side effects were reported.

Commenting on the significance of the findings, researcher Dr. Bruce Neal said via MedicalNewsToday that this study is "really important in terms of trying to get policymakers, salt manufacturers, and retailers to actually start recommending salt alternatives in a way that they currently don't."