Less salt a day could keep the doctor away, and it could save lives. A new study shows tens of thousands of heart attacks and strokes could be prevented each year just by reducing sodium intake.
Bill Southwell found out the hard way that he had to start eating better.
”I used to love chicken wings, and I can't have them anymore," said the Webster firefighter.
Since his heart attack eight years ago, Southwell has drastically changed the way he eats. He no longer eats steak, hamburgers or french fries.
“Any fried foods - I got to stay right away from," he said.
He has cut out a lot of sodium.
But a study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows a small reduction could be beneficial.
“It's right there with stopping smoking, exercising,
losing weight,” said Dr. Eduardo Arazoza, a
Researchers found the incidents of heart disease and death could drop dramatically by slashing salt by just three grams a day. That amounts to just half a teaspoon.
Arazoza tells his patients the best way to do that is to cut processed foods, like canned soups and vegetables.
“Or at least try to look for low salt options and get rid of the salt shaker, they might be doing something very good for themselves,” he said.
For some patients, it is easier said than done. But for Southwell, the thought of losing his life is not worth a few more grains of salt.
“After experiencing what I experienced, it's easy,”
he said, “Because I don't want to go through it again."
The study also showed cutting salt could result in a 10 to 24 billion dollar savings in health care costs.