This eating habit contributes to a high risk of premature death, new study finds — Eat This Not That

It seems like we’re always trying to figure out how live forever (or at least in our 100s). One of the proven ways your longevity is affected has to do with what you put into your body. When it comes to your body health, you always want to make sure you’re drinking the right drinks and eating the right foods. Whether you currently have an illness, you are at risk developing something, or you just want to make sure your body stays in its optimal state, keeping your body in check is important for a longer and healthier life.

As important as it is to watch what you put into your body, you also might not realize how little habits you have which can contribute to poor health and basically a shortened lifespan. According to a recent study published in the European Society of Cardiology, people who add extra salt to their food while sitting at the table have a higher risk of dying prematurely from any cause.

Around 501,379 people participated in the UK Biobank stud between 2006 and 2010. Participants were asked by a questionnaire if they added salt to their food. The options were either never/rarely, sometimes, usually, always, Where prefer not to answer. Those who preferred not to respond were not included in the analysis.

The researchers took into consideration other factors that could affect the results. This included age, gender, race, deprivation, body mass index (BMI), smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity and diet. They also took into consideration any medical conditions participants may have.

The study defined premature death as death before the age of 75. After following participants for about nine years, research has shown that compared to those who never or rarely added salt, those who always added salt to their diet had a 28% increased risk of dying prematurely.

Additionally, the study suggested that there was a lower life expectancy among participants who always added salt. At age 50, women’s life expectancy has decreased by an average of 1.5 years. For men, it was 2.28 years.

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The salt shaker isn’t the only source of sodium to consider

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“This epidemiological study is the first of its kind to examine the relationship between the salt shaker at the table and how often people use it,” shares Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND award-winning nutrition expert and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Diabetes Build Your Plate Meal Prep Cookbook.

According to Amidor, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reveal that, on average, Americans consume 3,393 milligrams of sodium per day. Meanwhile, the recommended limit is 2,300 milligrams. She further shares that the main sources of sodium in the diet are not from the salt shaker. Instead, they are sandwiches (21%), rice, pasta and other cereal-based dishes (8%).

“Adding table salt is really not the primary source where our sodium comes from,” says Amidor.

How to reduce your sodium intake

While the salt shaker may not be the main culprit, she still advises to be careful about how much you add.

“However, as a dietitian, I advise against using the salt shaker before taste your food to check if you really need it,” she says.

Additionally, Amidor recommends purchasing canned food no added salt or low in sodium.

“Research also reveals that up to 40 percent of sodium is removed when rinsing canned beans in water,” she says. “There are also home cooking techniques to help reduce sodium. For example, using low-sodium chicken broth and reduced-sodium or low-fat soy sauce.”

She also advises that when dine out, remember that most foods are extremely high in sodium. She suggests that many contain at least 75% of the recommended daily sodium intake. As such, eating out less often or using the Nutrition Facts table at an establishment, if available, can certainly help.

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“As a society, we consume way too much sodium,” says Amidor. “Being aware of the salt shaker is definitely one method to help reduce intake. But there are more prevalent sources of our sodium that shouldn’t be overlooked when trying to change your sodium habits.”

Kayla Garritano

Kayla Garritano is a staff writer for Eat This, Not That! She graduated from Hofstra University, where she majored in Journalism and earned a double minor in Marketing and Creative Writing. Read more

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