A sharp increase in salt intake can visibly constrict the arteries and prevent them from widening within a half-hour, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
This sudden change in blood-vessel function can even occur in people who have normal blood pressure, according to the study.
Researchers conducted the study using 16 healthy volunteers and providing eight of them with a low sodium once-cup serving of tomato soup, while the remainder of the group had a serving containing 10 times more salt. When the participants were finished eating, they were strapped into a blood pressure cuff that tightened to temporarily cut off their circulation. When the cuff was loosened, researchers used images from an ultrasound machine do determine how much the arteries expanded when blood flow was returned to them.
The results consistently showed that those who had consumed the salty snack saw their blood vessel widths increase about 50 percent less than those who had the low-salt tomato soup. The effect of the sodium lasted about two hours.
Researchers say this may potentially set up those who use high amounts of salt to later on develop atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart attack. Those whose high consumption of salt makes them at risk for cardiac disease should consider life insurance to provide for their families in the event of their death.