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High-Salt Diet Doubles CVD Risk in Diabetics


People with type 2 diabetes who eat a diet high in salt face twice the risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to those who consume less sodium, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 29.1 million Americans have some form of diabetes. Between 2003 and 2006, cardiovascular disease death rates were about 1.7 times higher among adults diagnosed with diabetes than those who were not, according to CDC’s 2014 National Diabetes Statistics Report.

Today’s U.S. food supply has 35 percent more sodium per person than it did in the early 1900s based on Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion data that highlights the food industry’s mission of reducing the level in processed foods. To further reduce sodium levels, FDA recently announced its intent to issue voluntary guidelines for food producers to reduce sodium levels based on data from the 2010 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report that called for a “gradual stepwise reduction in salt that would make the changes imperceptible to consumers’ palates." For a closer look at sodium in the food supply, view the FoodTech Toolbox gallery, “Sodium Update."

Many health officials agree that reducing sodium can improve consumers’ health, especially considering sodium intake has been linked to high blood pressure, which is a contributing factor for heart disease.

“The study’s findings provide clear scientific evidence supporting low-sodium diets to reduce the rate of heart disease among people with diabetes," said study author, Chika Horikawa, R.D., M.Sc., C.D.E., of the University of Niigata Prefecture, Niigata, Japan. “Although many guidelines recommend people with diabetes reduce their salt intake to lower the risk of complications, this study is among the first large longitudinal studies to demonstrate the benefits of a low-sodium diet in this population."

The study surveyed participants in the Japan Diabetes Complications Study who were between the ages of 40 and 70 and had been diagnosed with diabetes. Participants were identified at 59 outpatient centers and universities across Japan. In all, 1,588 people responded to a survey about their diets, including sodium intake. The researchers reviewed data on cardiovascular complications participants experienced over the course of eight years.

The analysis found people who ate an average of 5.9 grams of sodium daily had double the risk of developing cardiovascular disease than those who ate, on average, 2.8 grams of sodium daily.

The effects of a high-sodium diet were exacerbated by poor blood sugar control.

“To reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, it is important for people who have type 2 diabetes to improve their blood sugar control as well as watch their diet," Horikawa said. “Our findings demonstrate that restricting salt in the diet could help prevent dangerous complications from diabetes."


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