More than 500,000 people were involved in a study that found that people who add extra salt to their food are at higher risk of dying prematurely.

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, found that compared with those who never or rarely added salt to prepared food, those who added extra salt to their food had a 28 per cent increased risk of premature death.

The researchers concluded that adding salt after cooking reduces life expectancy by more than two years for men and one and a half years for women. But this does not include seasoning during cooking.

They found that the addition of extra salt was associated with a higher risk of premature death and a reduction in life expectancy.

However, the risks were slightly reduced in people who ate more fruit and vegetables.

They added: “As our study is the first to report an association between adding extra salt to food and mortality, further studies are needed to confirm the results before we make recommendations.

However; Professor Annika Rosengren, lead researcher at the University of Gothenburg – who was not involved in the research – highlighted that salt cannot be completely eliminated from the diet.

Healthy people who eat normal amounts of salt should not be too concerned about their salt intake. However, people with heart disease may need to reduce their salt intake, for example by no longer adding salt to ready meals.

Source: European Society of Cardiology