Does Cutting Back on Salt in Food Help Reduce Headaches?

Nearly everyone gets headaches. Yet no one knows how to prevent them. A new study suggest that cutting back on salt may help.


Researchers analyzed data from the 2001 DASH-Sodium trial, which had assigned 390 people with high blood pressure or prehypertension to diets that were high-sodium (3,300 milligrams a day), medium-sodium (2,400 mg a day), or low-sodium (1,500 mg a day) for 30 days each. Each sodium level came in either a typical American diet or a DASH diet that was rich in fruits and vegetables and included low-fat dairy, fish, poultry, nuts, beans, oils, and very little sugar.

The participants were roughly 30 percent less likely to report a headache while eating the low-sodium diet than while eating the high-sodium diet. (It didn’t matter whether the diet was the typical American or DASH version.)

What to do: Cut back on salt. This study alone doesn’t prove that less salt means fewer headaches. And the results may apply only to people with hypertension or prehypertension. Nevertheless, eating less salt can lower blood pressure. That’s a plus.

Source: BMJ Open 2014. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006671.

Other relevant links:

• Food allergies may also cause headaches. See: Keep in Mind Allergies When Thinking About Food Safety

• Should you be concerned about consuming too much or too little sodium? See: What’s with the Controversy about Salt in Food?

• Cutting salt is key to lowering blood pressure. See: Heart and Disease: Don’t Ignore Salt’s Role in Heart Disease

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