Cutting back on salt helps lower blood pressure regardless of age, sex, race, or dietary patterns, according to a new study. Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Centre for Health Research in Portland, US studied more than 400 people, 160 of whom had high blood pressure. For 14 weeks, all their food was provided by the researchers. Some ate a typical U.S. diet, while others consumed the DASH diet, or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. This diet is high in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, and includes whole grains, poultry fish and nuts. It limits red meat, sweets, and fats, especially saturated fat. People in both groups ate a low level of salt for 30 days, a medium level for 30 days, and a higher level for 30 days. Results showed that - for both women and men, and those with or without high blood pressure - the lower the salt intake, the lower the blood pressure, and ultimately the fewer heart attacks and strokes later in life. Current US government standards recommend 2,400 mg a day, the medium level studied.Full findings are published in the January 4 issue of the The New England Journal of Medicine.