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Salt laden meals have immediate impact on circulation, researchers confirm

By Nathan Gray+

04-Oct-2012
Last updated on 04-Oct-2012 at 13:21 GMT

Salt laden meals have immediate impact on circulation

High salt foods could have immediate effects on cardiovascular functioning, but the mechanisms behind such an effect are still a mystery, says the researcher behind the study.

Consuming highly salty foods could reduce the functioning of blood vessels within 30 minutes of intake, researchers have confirmed.

The new findings follow up from a study published by Australian researchers last year, which suggested that meals containing high amounts of salt could have an immediate impact on blood vessels' ability to pump blood around the body.

“Last year we published a study that looked at the effects of a high salt meal on post-meal function,” explained Kacie Dickinson from the University of Adelaide, who led both pieces of research.

“We found that a meal containing about 4 grams of salt worsened cardiovascular functions within about 30 minutes of eating the meal.”

Speaking with FoodNavigator at the recent ESPEN Congress on Nutrition and Metabolism, Dickinson explained that the new follow-up research aimed to repeat the original study whilst measuring various biomarkers of blood vessel functioning – in an effort to find out what causes the immediate effects.

“Building on that research we have now sought to understand some of the mechanisms that might be underlying this effect,” she explained.

The Australian researcher said the findings from the new study back up the findings reported last year, but have left her no closer to uncovering the mechanism that underlies the short-term effects.

Follow-up investigation

The new study, which is yet to be fully published, aimed to find the underlying mechanism behind the findings that caused so many headlines last year. Dickinson explained that her initial belief had been that the mechanism could be related to nitric oxide – however the new findings have since ruled this out.

“In this current study we again gave people a salty meal containing around 4 grams of salt and compared it with a control meal that contained only a small amount of salt,” explained Dickinson.

“What was of interest was looking at some endothelial derived factors – like nitric oxide – to see if these changed with the high salt meal,” she said. “We measured plasma nitrate and nitrite as an index of nitric oxide, but didn’t find any differences between the meals.”

Dickinson said the results from her new study were contrary to her original ideas on the mechanisms: “So we no longer believe that nitric oxide is responsible for the results.”

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