Diet: Hidden dangers of salt

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The Independent Online
Cutting down on the amount of salt in the diet could save thousands of lives from strokes, scientists say. A study of 47 elderly people whose salt intake was halved showed a marked reduction in blood pressure which is one of the main risk factors for stroke.

The study, published in The Lancet, suggests that if all elderly people reduced their salt intake at least 34,000 lives a year would be saved. However, Professor Graham MacGregor and his colleagues at St George's Hospital, London, say that 80 per cent of salt in the diet is hidden in processed food and manufacturers are not doing enough to reduce it. Salt is the cheapest flavour enhancer, and allows more water to be added to processed meats, increasing their weight at no cost, and it is the main determinant of thirst in temperate climates, which is important to the soft drinks industry.