Chinese Diets Contain Too Much Salt

According to an international study, 80 percent of the communities in China have a mean sodium intake greater than five grams per day.

AsianScientist (Aug. 21, 2018) – In a study published in The Lancet, an international research group has found that salt consumption by the Chinese is among the highest in the world.

A high level of sodium salt intake is associated with diseases such as high blood pressure and cardiovascular complications. The World Health Organization recommends a global approach to reducing sodium intake in all populations to below two grams per day, but this has not been achieved in any country.

In this study, scientists analyzed data from the ongoing Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology study, an observational study examining the impact of urbanization on health. 95,767 participants aged 35-70 years in 369 communities in 18 countries were included in the study.

A morning fasting midstream urine sample was collected from every participant and was used to estimate 24-hour urinary sodium and potassium intake. Information about demographic factors, lifestyle, health history and medication use were recorded, while height, weight and blood pressure were measured.

The researchers reported that 80 percent of the communities in China had a mean sodium intake greater than five grams per day, whereas in other countries, 84 percent of communities had a mean intake of three to five grams per day. No communities in the study had a mean sodium intake below three grams per day.

Higher sodium intake was associated with increased blood pressure and increased incidence of stroke, but the association was found in communities with very high sodium intake (mostly in China) and not others. Moderate sodium intake was associated with lower rates of myocardial infarction and total mortality.

“Our study adds to growing evidence to suggest that, at moderate intake, sodium may have a beneficial role in cardiovascular health, but a potentially more harmful role when intake is very high or very low. This is the relationship we would expect for any essential nutrient and health,” said Associate Professor Andrew Mente of McMaster University, Canada, the first author of the study.

“While low sodium intake does reduce blood pressure, at very low levels it may also have other effects, including adverse elevations of certain hormones associated with an increase in risk of death and cardiovascular diseases,” he added.

Furthermore, rates of stroke, cardiovascular death and total mortality decreased with increasing potassium intake in these communities. Diets rich in fruit and vegetables are high in potassium. However, it is not known whether potassium itself is protective, or whether it might simply be a marker of a healthy diet.

“Our findings support other research recommending an all-round healthy diet with an emphasis on fruit and vegetables, dairy foods, potatoes, nuts and beans. Very high sodium consumption (above five grams per day) is harmful, but the amount that is consumed by the majority of people does not appear to be linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease or death,” said Professor Martin O’Donnell of McMaster University, also a co-author on the study.

The article can be found at: Mente et al. (2018) Urinary Sodium Excretion, Blood Pressure, Cardiovascular Disease, and Mortality: a Community-level Prospective Epidemiological Cohort Study.


Source: The Lancet; Photo: Shutterstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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