People can reduce their risk of developing heart issues by 20% if they remove salt from their diet, a new study reveals.

Previous research has found that a high intake of salt is associated with a higher risk of developing heart disease or experiencing an early death.

Scientists have now discovered that people can reduce heart problems by up to a fifth if they ditch salt altogether.

People who never add salt to their meals are 18% less at risk of developing atrial fibrillation compared to individuals who do, the study has reported.

Approximately 1.5 million Brits have atrial fibrillation – a heart condition that causes an irregular and often abnormally fast heart rate.

Individuals with atrial fibrillation are five times more at risk of having a stroke compared to those without the condition, according to the findings.

First author Dr Yoon Jung Park said: “Our study indicates that lower frequency of adding salt to foods was associated with lower risk of atrial fibrillation.”

During the study, the team of researchers examined UK Biobank data from 2006 to 2010. This database includes more than 500,000 adults aged from 40 to 70.

Individuals who had atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease, heart failure or stroke at the start of the study were not included.

The academics found that the adults who never put salt on their food were 18% less at risk of developing atrial fibrillation, while those who only sometimes salted their meals were 15% less likely to develop the condition.

Professor James Leiper, from the British Heart Foundation, said: “It’s well-known that eating too much salt can lead to health problems.

“This research is a helpful reminder that we could all benefit from sticking to the government recommendation of eating no more than six grams of salt a day – about a teaspoon.”

Mhairi Brown, from Consensus Action on Salt, Sugar and Health, said: “This new research is a valuable addition to the evidence base and reinforces the need for strict policies that would help lower the amount of salt in our food and protect our health from avoidable deaths.”

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