How to Reduce Dietary Salt Intake
Just Add Spice?
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See related article, pp 1291–1299
Hypertension is the single largest risk factor for multiple comorbidities, including stroke, myocardial infarction, and chronic kidney disease, and is projected to be the leading global cause of death and disability by 2020. A major risk factor for hypertension is high dietary salt intake.1 The salt sensitivity of blood pressure, an exaggerated pressor response to salt intake, affects ≈50% of hypertensive and ≈25% of normotensive adults and profoundly increases the risk of hypertension.1 Highlighting the profound impact of salt intake on global health, the World Health Organization (WHO) has proposed dietary salt reduction as a target for 2025 to reduce global mortality from noncommunicable diseases. Despite this stated WHO target, the public health impact of dietary salt intake remains significant as the vast majority of countries consume a daily salt intake far in excess of the 5 g/d recommended by the WHO.1,2 Despite multiple campaigns to increases public awareness of the potential health benefits of reducing salt intake, global salt intake remains high, and new approaches and scientific insights are required to achieve reductions in population-level salt intake.
The study conducted by Li et al3 reported in this issue of Hypertension adopts an alternative approach to this issue of excess salt intake based on the hedonic properties of salty food. The authors have investigated, via clinical and basic science studies, the role of spicy taste preference on the central circuitry that responds to salt intake. The central gustatory system and mesolimbic system are vital to the processing of taste signaling and the hedonic responses to food, including the palatability of salty food. Prior investigations have determined that the individual subjective pleasantness of taste is highly associated with the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), as such this region was a focus of …