AHA Logo Minimal intake of salt as a teenager seems to provide health benefits in later life. A recent study suggests that little amount of salt in adolescence can decline high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke risk in adulthood. Salt is known to be hidden in breads and cereals, canned foods and condiments, as well as fast foods like pizza.

The undertaken sophisticated computer modeling analysis seemingly highlights health effects of a 3-gram reduction in dietary salt from processed foods consumed by teenagers. Salt intake among adolescents is probably high, i.e. more than 9 grams, than other age groups. As per the guidelines laid down by the American Heart Association, daily intake of not more than 1,500 milligrams sodium is acceptable for most Americans. A 3 grams decline in salt consumption may decrease the number of hypertensive teenagers and young adults by 44 percent to 63 percent. The number of hypertensives at the age of 35 to 50 years is possibly reduced by 30 percent to 43 percent.

Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, Ph.D., M.D., lead author of the study and associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of California, San Francisco, added, “Reducing the amount of salt that is already added to the food that we eat could mean that teenagers live many more years free of hypertension. The additional benefit of lowering salt consumption early is that we can hopefully change the expectations of how food should taste, ideally to something slightly less salty.”

Scientists believe that one-gram-per-day reduction in salt intake results in a small drop of systolic blood pressure by 0.8 mm Hg. By the age of 50 years, teenagers reported measurable health benefits. Along with a probable reduction in coronary heart disease by 7 to 12 percent, adolescents also had a 8 to14 percent decline in heart attacks. Threat of undergoing a stroke as well as death from any cause may be decreased by 5 to 8 percent.

The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2010.