No Amount Of Healthy Eating Can Offset Impacts High Salt Intake, Study Says

by | Mar 7, 2018

New research has found that an otherwise healthy diet isn’t enough to counteract the impact high salt intake has on your health.


The study – published in the journal Hypertension – followed the eating habits of 4,680 men and women from China, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States over a four day period.

Researchers analysed urine samples to determine concentrations of sodium and potassium, an essential mineral that helps to lower blood pressure by balancing out the negative effects of salt. They also noted the nutrients each participant was consuming that could be linked to low blood pressure.

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Their results showed a strong connections between a higher salt intake and high blood pressure, even in participants who high levels of potassium in their urine and reported to follow a healthy diet.

They discovered that the average salt consumption of adults in each of the regions was well above the World Health Organisation recommended amount of five grams per day, which is about a teaspoon. For UK residents, the average intake was 8.5 grams, US participants consumed 9.6 grams, Japanese citizens ate 11.7 grams and those in China ate a whopping 13.4 grams.

According to a paper recently published in the Medical Journal of Australia, Aussie men are consuming around 10 grams of salt per day while women are taking in around seven grams.

Excessive salt intake is associated with high blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke.

“This research shows there are no cheats when it comes to reducing blood pressure,” said lead author Dr Queenie Chan, according to Science Daily. “Having a low salt diet is key – even if your diet is otherwise healthy and balanced.”

However, reducing your intake is less about what you’re sprinkling on your food and more about what’s already hiding in everyday items.

RELATED: Chances Are You’re Eating Way More Salt Than You Think You Are

“As a large amount of the salt in our diet comes from processed food, we are urging food manufacturers to take steps to reduce salt in their products,” Dr Chan added.

In fact, according to the Heart Foundation75 percent of the salt we eat comes from packaged and processed foods, like, cereals, processed meats, soups, sauces, spreads and bread. Yep, even bread.

“Most people don’t think that bread has salt,” Gabrielle Maston, Accredited Practising Dietitian and Spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, told Women’s Health. 

“That’s also our multigrain and wholemeal breads as well. So if you have more than two slices of bread per day you’ll actually reach your recommended daily intake of salt. It’s very easily overdone.”

Gabrielle also recommends filling out your diet with whole foods, that way there’s less room for the salt-heavy stuff. 

“Getting rid of discretionary foods for a start, so making them sometimes things rather than daily. I recommend people to only have discretionary foods once a week, as a treat in a small amount and then on the flip side, look at eating more whole foods because we know that healthy foods like our fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds are naturally low in salt so if we tend to eat a majority of healthy foods you’ll have a naturally lower in salt diet.”

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Women Fleeing Domestic Violence Can Now Receive A One-Off Support Payment

It’s been labelled the shadow pandemic and the fact remains that for many women across Australia, domestic violence is a lived reality that doesn’t discriminate by age, occupation, or socio-economic status. Researchers have found that during Covid-19 lockdowns, there was a surge in family and domestic violence, with agencies experiencing a surge in demand as nearly half their clients reported an increase in controlling behaviours. 

As many who have lived through such turmoil and trauma can attest, the roadmap to fleeing such situations at home can be fraught with challenges and extremely difficult to navigate, particularly when such bureaucracy makes it even harder. Now, it’s been announced that women fleeing a violent relationship will be given a one-off $5,000 payment as part of a federal government trial scheme. 

Known as the “escaping violence payment scheme,” the government has set aside $144.5 million over the next two years to give women $1,500 cash, with the remainder to pay for goods and services, bond, school fees and other necessaries to establish a new safe home. UnitingCare Network will be tasked with delivering the payments while helping link women and their children with relevant community services. 

As the Daily Telegraph reports, “An analysis of domestic violence data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that while it is more common for women from poorer areas, women from high socio-economic areas are not immune from experiencing partner violence.”

As Women’s Safety Minister Anne Ruston explained, the trial has been introduced with the aim to help women overcome the financial barriers that might deter them from leaving a violent relationship. “We know that financial hardship as well as economic abuse - which may involve interfering with work or controlling or withholding money - reduces women’s ability to acquire and use money and makes it difficult to leave violent relationships,” she said. 

“The payments will assist people who need financial support to leave. We know the size of the house a woman is fleeing doesn’t matter. Often she bundles the kids into the car, maybe the dog too and they leave with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.”

To be eligible for a payment, women must be facing financial stress and have some evidence of domestic violence such as a referral from a family and domestic violence service provider with a risk assessment and safety plan, or an AVO, court order or police report. As UnitingCare Australia National Director Claerwen Little said, “We believe that all people, especially women and their children, have the right to live freely and without fear, and this payment is an important step forward to ending violence against women and children.”

If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.

If you’d like to speak to someone about domestic violence, please call the 1800 

Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online. 

Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.