According to a new US study reducing salt intake from 8 to 4 grams per day could significantly reduce the occurrence of headaches.
The study assigned 390 people to one of three diets, with high (8 grams), medium (6 grams) or low (4 grams) salt content per day over a 30-day period and documented cases of headache (1). The participants returned to the trial center three times to try all three diets in random order. They also ate according to one of two dietary patterns: either the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, rich in fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy, or a control diet, described as a typical western diet. The study results showed that those participants on the lowest salt diet reported 31% fewer headaches than those on the highest salt diet. No difference in headache occurrence was found between the different dietary patterns. The effect was also independent of blood pressure, with lower headache occurrence reported by those with high and normal blood pressure.
The researchers commented that these findings contrast with the popular belief that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and potassium and low in saturated and total fat may ease the frequency, or even prevent, headache. The results of this study provide encouraging evidence in support of dietary recommendations to lower sodium intake – recommendations which are currently based on the relationship of sodium intake with blood pressure. The scientists advocate that those people who have headaches reduce their salt intake as it may abolish their headaches as well as having the very important effect of lowering their blood pressure and thereby the risk of a stroke and or heart attack.