How many comic strips have we sat through where a stereotypical husband stares longingly at a hoagie or sits slumped over a salad because their stereotypical cartoon wife disallows them from eating salt due to high blood pressure? The husband is usually wearing a white tank top and a pork pie hat, the wife with arms crossed, possibly holding a rolling pin or wearing curlers in her hair. Comic strips are weirdly bleak when you deconstruct them. But anyway, the good news for salt lovers and cartoon husbands is that according to a new study published in Open Heart, added sugar contributes to heart disease more than salt. However, more bad news about salt has soon followed.
In fact, according to this new study, the blood pressure reduction achieved by cutting down on sodium is “slim” and “debatable.” And it’s thought that the carbs and added sugars found in processed foods contribute more to heart disease than the salt.
Ingesting one 24-ounce soft drink has been shown to cause an average maximum increase in blood pressure of 15/9 mm Hg and heart rate of 9 bpm. Those who consume 25% or more calories from added sugar have an almost threefold increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, according to the research.
The biggest offender is high fructose corn syrup. Most natural sugars have a balance of fructose and glucose and are considered beneficial in fruits and veggies, but HFCS is not balanced, and the current thinking is that this imbalance can lead to acidic blood that damages the lining of the veins.
Although this study may take some heat off of salt. Another study published in BMJ Open, put the heat back on. Researchers found a link between salt and headaches. Test subjects who ate 8 g of sodium suffered one-third more headaches than those who only consumed 4 g. Headaches occurred in the participants regardless of how healthy their diets were otherwise. The average American consumes 3,400 mg of sodium. The daily recommended amount is 1500 mg.