The UK public have been urged to slash their salt intake to reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease.
Three studies published on bmj.com show that cutting down on salt and, at the same time, increasing levels of potassium in our diet will have major health and cost benefits across the world.
The strategy will save millions of lives every year from heart disease and stroke, experts have said.
WHO has set a global goal to reduce dietary salt intake to 5-6 g (about one teaspoon) per person per day by 2025, yet salt intake in many countries is currently much higher than this.
The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended a reduction in salt intake to 3 g per day by 2025 for the adult population.
The first study found that a modest reduction of salt led to a fall in blood pressure in people with both hypertension and normal blood pressure.
The effect was seen in white and black people and in men and women, thereby reducing strokes, heart attacks, and heart failure across populations.
However, the researchers believe current recommendations “are not ideal” and say agree with NICE that a reduction to 3 g per day “should become the long term target for population salt intake.”
Lower sodium intake was associated with reduced risk of stroke and fatal coronary heart disease in adults, in the second study.
“The totality of evidence suggests that reducing sodium intake should be part of public health efforts to reduce blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases, and will likely benefit most individuals,” the authors said.
A third study analysed data on potassium intake and health from 33 trials involving over 128,000 healthy participants. Potassium is found in most fresh fruits and vegetables and pulses.