There's no doubt that salt can make or break a dish. It finds its way in almost everything we eat; it can dial down bitterness, make the sweet undertones more pronounced and make your food sing. Has it happened to you that you've taken a bite of food and felt that something is missing? The missing element always seems to be salt and just a pinch of it turns your dish from average to absolutely spectacular.
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Salt is often known as an enemy to good health. One study says it can delay puberty, another says it can increase your chances and a third says it can cause your blood pressure to shoot up. But every yin has a yang and similarly there are also studies that say that salt can kill cancer cells and help you get a flatter stomach. The important thing in all of this is to make sure you're enjoying salt in moderate quantities.
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A study that appeared in the Journal of the American Heart Association tried to understand what could happen if you were to increase the quantity of salt you were consuming. Research revealed that people who gradually increase the amount of salt in diets face high blood pressure risk just like people who habitually eat a high-salt diet.
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In a Japanese study of more than 4,000 people who had normal blood pressure, almost 23 percent developed high blood pressure over a three year period. Those who ate the most salt were the most likely to have high blood pressure by the end of the study.
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Participants who gradually increased their sodium intake also showed gradually higher blood pressure. At the conclusion of the study, the people consuming the least amount of sodium were consuming 2,925 mg per day and those consuming the most sodium were consuming 5,644 mg per day. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends 1,500 mg sodium intake a day.
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"It did not matter whether their sodium levels were high at the beginning of the study or if they were low to begin with, then gradually increased over the years. Both groups were at greater risk of developing high blood pressure," explained Tomonori Sugiura, assistant professor at the Nagoya City University Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Nagoya, Japan.
The results confirm the findings of other studies that show strong associations between salt in the diet and high blood pressure. "Reducing sodium intake can save lives, save money and improve heart health -- no matter what background or nationality a person is" noted researchers. In some people, sodium increases blood pressure because it holds excess fluid in the body, creating an added burden to your heart. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attacks, stroke and heart failure.
With inputs from IANS