Adding salt to meals at the table is linked to an earlier death, according to a study of 500,000 middle-aged Britons.
Researchers found that always adding salt to food knocks more than two years off life expectancy for men and one-and-a-half years for women. This does not include seasoning during the cooking process.
The study did not definitively rule out other factors, such as salt consumption being a proxy for a generally less healthy lifestyle, but the team behind the work said the evidence was compelling enough that people should consider avoiding seasoning their meals.
“To my knowledge, our study is the first to assess the relation between adding salt to foods and premature death,” said Prof Lu Qi of Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, who led the work. “Even a modest reduction in sodium intake, by adding less or no salt to food at the table, is likely to result in substantial health benefits, especially when it is achieved in the general population.”