Natural sea salt consumption confers protection against hypertension and kidney damage in Dahl salt-sensitive rats
Although sea salts are widely available to consumers nowadays, whether its consumption over refined salt has any real health benefits is largely unknown. This study was conducted to compare hypertension-inducing propensity of natural sea salt (SS) to refined salt (RS) in a well-established animal model of hypertension. Five groups of male Dahl salt-sensitive rats were fed rat chow diet supplemented with various amounts of salt for 15 weeks. The groups were: control (CON, n = 10), 4% RS (RS4), 4% SS (SS4), 8% RS (RS8), 8% SS (SS8) ( n = 12 for each group). After 15 weeks, both SS4 and SS8 groups had significantly lower systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) compared to RS4 and RS8 rats, respectively. RS8 rats had markedly higher SBP and DBP compared to all other groups. Echocardiography just prior to sacrifice showed abnormalities in RS4, SS8 and RS8 hearts, while CON and SS4 hearts displayed normal measurements. Plasma renin and aldosterone levels of high salt groups were lower than those of CON, and serum electrolytes were similar amongst all groups. Abnormal kidney pathology and high glomerulosclerosis index scores were seen in RS4 and RS8 rats, but SS4 and SS8 kidneys showed relatively normal morphology similar to CON kidneys. Our findings show that consumption of natural sea salt induces less hypertension compared to refined salt in the Dahl salt-sensitive rat.
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