Salt- the Good, the Bad and the Ugly…
After years of strident health campaigns advising us to eat les salt, we are all now fully aware of the health risks associated with over-consumption. Eating too much salt, in particular the sodium bit, has been blamed for some of the rise in hypertension, stroke, cardiovascular disease and stroke. But what about the chloride counterpart of sodium chloride, the chemical that makes up salt? Researchers at the University of Glasgow have recently published some fascinating long-range research, trying to discover what chloride is doing inside of us and whether it is just as dangerous as its chemical partner.
Chloride has often been overlooked in the study of salt, which is surprising when you consider it makes up 50% of the molecule. The research conducted focused on people with high blood pressure (hypertension). The 13’000 volunteers were studied over a period of 35 years and monitored for various chemical levels in their blood. The results for chloride were the most startling. The study found that low levels of chloride in the blood were an independent indicator of a higher mortality risk in people with hypertension. In fact, with low levels, individuals risk rose to 20% higher than the risk for people with higher chloride levels in their blood.
These finding will bring about a whole new area of research in the fight against cardiovascular disease. It is far too soon to say that salt is healthy as a combined product, or even that chloride is healthy, but this data certainly opens a door on that area for research that may lead to the routine monitoring of chloride levels in vulnerable people as well as treatments to boost levels in that those that need it (if a therapeutic benefit can be found).
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Image of salt is provided courtesy of http://lanthanamuk.chemistry.com