Reducing salt has numerous benefits

salty foodHELSINKI, Finland, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- A 30-percent decrease in salt intake over 30 years in Finland was associated with a decrease in both stroke and coronary heart disease mortality.

During the same period the life expectancy of both male and female Finns increased by 6 to 7 years, according to researchers Dr. Heikki Karppanen of the University of Helsinki and Dr. Eero Mervaala of the University of Kuopio.

The most powerful explaining factor for the favorable changes was the more than 10 mmHg "point" decrease in the average blood pressure of the population, says Karppanen. A marked decrease in the average cholesterol levels of the population also remarkably contributed to the decrease of heart diseases. The extensive use of drugs contributed less than 10 percent of the observed decreases in blood pressure, cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases, the researchers say.

There was also a close link between salt intake and obesity, the researchers say. The study, published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, reports that increasing intakes of sodium produces a progressive increase in thirst and an increase in the intake of sweetened beverages adding to the caloric intake.