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Warning over heart risks from eating too much salt

Diets containing too much salt and too little potassium significantly increase the risk of dying from heart disease, say researchers.

The combined effect is greater than either factor on its own, a study suggests.

Sodium in salt is known to narrow arteries and raise blood pressure, whereas potassium is believed to counteract these effects.

The association may also be a reflection of dietary habits.

Someone with a high salt and low potassium intake is likely to consume a generally less healthy diet. Processed food contains added salt, while fruits and vegetables are good sources of potassium.

Scientists analysed data on more than 12,000 people enrolled into a major US health and nutrition study.


After an average follow-up period of around 15 years, 2,270 participants had died.

The study found that all-cause risk of death for people with the highest sodium-potassium ratios -- those with the highest sodium and lowest potassium intake -- was 46pc greater than for those with the lowest ratios.

Victoria Taylor, dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said: "What this means for our diets is that it's important to reduce the amount of salt we eat by checking food labels for the lowest salt choices and avoid adding salt to our meals.

"But we also need to make sure that we are including enough foods that contain potassium in our diet. So it's yet another reason to make sure we're getting our five-a-day."