Our daily diets are bigger killers than smoking and account for one in five deaths around the world. In other words, the food you eat could be sending you to an early grave. But which diets are the worst?
Well, according to an influential study in The Lancet, salt – whether it be in bread, processed meals or soy sauce – shortens the most lives.
The Global Burden of Disease Study used estimates of different countries’ eating habits to determine which diets were shortening the most lives.
Here are the three most dangerous diets:
- Too much salt - three million deaths
- Too few whole grains - three million deaths
- Too little fruit - two million deaths
Low levels of seeds, nuts, vegetables, fibre and omega-3 from seafood were the other major killers.
Speaking to the BBC, Prof Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, said: “We find that diet is one of the dominant drivers of health around the world, it's really quite profound.”
Salt is such a big problem because it significantly increases a person’s blood pressure, which in turn increases their chances of heart attacks and strokes. Around 10 million out of the 11 million diet-related deaths were because of cardiovascular disease, highlighting why diets containing too much salt are such a problem.