Two new studies have shed light on why it's so important to put down the salt shaker and eat some fruits and vegetables --and why it's so hard to do that.
Sodium, a key ingredient in salt, raises blood pressure, and it's especially dangerous if a person doesn't get enough potassium to counteract it, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discovered after studying 12,000 people. Indeed, the study showed that people who ate a lot of sodium and not much potassium (found in foods like bananas and spinach) had a 46% higher risk of a fatal heart attack than those who did the opposite, according to The Wall Street Journal. Those who are age 51 or older should have no more than 1,500 milligrams of salt a day; a teaspoon is 2,300 milligrams, the Journal reported.
However, it may take more than a little willpower to give up salt. MedicalNewsToday.com reported that researchers from Duke University and the University of Melbourne found a similarity between the biological processes involved in the development of a drug addiction and a desire for salt. When deprived of sodium, the mice they studied responded physiologically like a human addicted to heroin or cocaine would if denied a fix. The researchers suggested that the results could lead to a better understanding of addictions and obesity, since certain processed foods are loaded with sodium.