In order to eat healthily, many people replace table sugar with alternatives such as honey. A study shows that it can also be worthwhile to find an alternative to table salt.

In Europe, a third of people between the ages of 30 and 79 suffer from high blood pressure, which is often caused by excessive salt consumption. This is what a recent statement from the World Health Organization (WHO) says. A chronic diet high in salt can lead to heart attacks, strokes and other health problems.

According to the WHO, ten thousand people die every day in Europe from cardiovascular diseases. This means around four million deaths per year, explained WHO Regional Director Hans Kluge.

The WHO recommends a maximum amount of five grams of salt per day, or about a teaspoon. Most Germans eat significantly more, as the “Study on Health in Germany” by the Robert Koch Institute shows. 39 percent of women and 50 percent of men consume more than ten grams of table salt per day, while 15 percent of women and 23 percent of men even consume more than 15 grams daily. This can lead to high blood pressure and subsequently a heart attack or stroke.

According to the WHO, the problem exists not only in Germany, but throughout Europe: in 51 of the 53 countries belonging to the WHO Regional Directorate for Europe, the average daily salt intake is above the recommended maximum amount. This is mainly due to processed foods and snacks.

Hans Kluge called for people to eat a lower-salt diet. “Implementing targeted measures to reduce salt consumption by 25 percent could save an estimated 900,000 lives by 2030.”

A study from Australia shows: If you don’t want to miss out on the taste, you can turn to alternatives. Salt mixtures that contain less sodium and more potassium taste similar, but according to the study they can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 17 percent.

The Australian study is a so-called meta-study. The researchers at Bond University analyzed 16 studies in which some of the test subjects switched to salt alternatives for at least six months. Eight of the studies were completed at the time of the analysis and focused particularly on the effects on the heart and circulatory system. Most participants in these studies lived in China or Taiwan and were on average 62 years old.

They were able to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by an average of 17 percent using salt alternatives. This was particularly true for people who already had an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Ordinary table salt consists of chloride and about 40 percent sodium. Both substances are important for the body, but only in moderation. The sodium intake from table salt usually exceeds the requirement.

According to the Australian researchers, low-sodium salt is healthier, meaning it contains significantly less than 40 grams of sodium per 100 grams of salt. In most low-sodium table salts, some of the sodium is replaced with potassium. The products have a similar taste and can be used as usual.

In the studies examined, the test subjects replaced a large portion of the sodium in table salt with potassium. However, it is not clear how much additional potassium they took. Although potassium is good for the body, it should not be taken in excessive doses.

Since mainly Chinese and Taiwanese test subjects were examined, it is also unclear to what extent the results can be transferred to a Western population, write the authors of the study. For example, a large part of the sodium consumption in Asian cuisine can be traced back to soy sauces, while in the Western world processed products are more of a problem. These usually contain a lot of table salt – and therefore sodium – as a preservative or flavor enhancer.

Aside from conscious salt consumption, there are other diets that keep your heart healthy. If the following twelve foods are regularly on your menu, you can significantly reduce your risk of a heart attack:

Read more about the nutrients in these foods and their effects here.