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Sodium and potassium intake in healthy adults in Thessaloniki greater metropolitan area – the SING (Salt Intake in Northern Greece) study.

Eleni Vasara, Georgios Marakis, Joao Breda, Petros Skepastianos, Maria Hassapidou, Anthony Kafatos, Nikolaos Rodopaios, Alexandra A Koulouri, Francesco P Cappuccio.

Nutrients 2017, 9, 417; doi:10.3390/nu9040417

Abstract: A reduction in population sodium (as salt) consumption is one of the most cost-effective strategies to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease and it is a global health priority. High potassium intake is also recommended to reduce cardiovascular disease. To establish effective policies for setting targets and monitoring effectiveness within each country, the current level of consumption should be known. Greece lacks data on actual sodium and potassium intakes. The aim of the present study was therefore to assess dietary salt (using sodium as biomarker) and potassium intakes in a sample of healthy adults in northern Greece and to determine whether adherence to a Mediterranean diet is related to different sodium intakes or sodium-to-potassium ratio. A cross-sectional survey was carried out in Thessaloniki greater metropolitan area (northern Greece) (n=252, aged 18-75 years, 45.2% males). Participants’ dietary sodium and potassium intakes were determined by 24h urinary sodium and potassium excretions. In addition, we estimated their adherence to Mediterranean diet by the use of an 11-item MedDietScore (range 0-55). The mean sodium excretion was 175 (SD 72) mmol/day, equivalent to 4,220 (1,745) mg of sodium or 10.7 (4.4) g of salt per day and potassium excretion was 65 (25) mmol/day, equivalent to 3,303 (1,247) mg/day. Men had higher sodium and potassium excretions compared to women. Only 5.6% of the sample had salt intake <5g/d, which is the target intake recommended by the WHO. Mean sodium-to-potassium intake ratio was 1.34 (0.51). There was no significant difference in salt or potassium intake or their ratio across MedDietScore quartiles. No significant relationships were found between salt intake and adherence to Mediterranean diet, suggesting that the perception of the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet does not hold when referring to salt consumption. These results suggest the need for a larger nation-wide survey on salt intake in Greece and underline the importance of continuation of salt reduction initiatives in Greece.