The research published on July 11 in the European Heart Journal looked at data from 501,379 participants in the UK Biobank project, who had joined the study between 2006 and 2010 and were followed for about nine years.
The study participants were asked via a touch-screen questionnaire whether they added salt to their foods and if they did, how often they do so. The options included: i) I never/rarely, ii) occasionally, iii) generally, iv) always, or v) prefer not to answer.
The study did not include people who responded ‘prefer not to answer.’
Compared to people who never or rarely added salt, those who frequently added salt were at a 28% increased risk of dying prematurely.
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Study leader Professor Lu Qi, of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, USA, said: “To my knowledge, our study is the first to assess the relation between adding salt to foods and premature death.”
“It provides novel evidence to support recommendations to modify eating behaviours for improving health. Even a modest reduction in sodium intake, by adding less or no salt to food at the table, is likely to result in substantial health benefits, especially when it is achieved in the general population,” he adds.
Furthermore, the study author also explains how adding salt to foods at the table is a common eating behaviour that indicates an individual’s long-term preference for salty-tasting foods.