Dangerous combination: salt and metabolic syndrome

February 18, 2009 by  

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Metabolic syndrome makes you sensitive to sodium, hence salt. This is the result of a Chinese population-based dietary intervention study published in the latest issue of The Lancet. Our common table salt, that white powder that we eat everyday is mainly sodium chloride.

Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of medical conditions that put a person at risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. These conditions are:

High blood pressure

High blood sugar levels

High levels of triglycerides, a type of fat, in your blood

Low levels of HDL, the good cholesterol, in your blood

Too much fat around your waist

Researchers from Tulane University in New Orleans report that having a metabolic syndrome increases people’s sensistivity to salt causing their blood pressure to shoot up. This salt sensitivity was described as

as a decrease in mean arterial BP of more than 5 mm Hg during low-sodium intervention or an increase of more than 5 mm Hg during high-sodium intervention.

The dietary intervention study looked at1906 adult participants who received a low-sodium diet for seven days followed by a 6-fold higher sodium diet for another seven days. The results show that those with metabolic syndrome (283 participants) has an almost two-fold higher risk of having salt sensitivity. The more conditions indicating metabolic syndrome a person has, the higher is the salt sensitivity.

The study was conducted in Northern China where salt has been used for centuries as food preservative in rural areas, translating into high salt intake. However, despite the alternatives that technology has brought about (e.g. refrigeration, freezing, canning, and fresh food supply), people still eat high quantities of salt because it has become a dietary habit. There is an urgent need to break this habit as the prevalence of hypertension and other cardiovascular disorders are skyrocketing in China.

Salt reduction strategies have been implemented in many countries with quite some success. These strategies are usually simple, e.g. providing a measuring scoop for cooking, etc.

The authors conclude that “if salt-sensitive hypertension is recorded in Chinese people more frequently than in other countries, then reduction of salt intake should become a national campaign.”

In my upcoming posts, I will be writing more about salt in our diet, the current requirements and some yummy low salt recipes. Stay tuned!

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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