BEIJING, March 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Taking in too much salty food may speed up cellular aging, especially in overweight and obese teenagers, a recent study reported.
"Lowering sodium intake, especially if you are overweight or obese, may slow down the cellular aging process that plays an important role in the development of heart disease," lead researcher Haidong Zhu, assistant professor of pediatrics at Medical College of Georgia, Georgia Regents University in Augusta, GA., said in a statement.
The study examined the effect of a high salt diet on the length of telomeres - the protective ends on chromosomes - in normal weight , overweight and obese teens.
Researchers observed that the telomeres were much shorter in overweight and obese teens with high salt intake, but not in normal-weight teens with high salt intake.
Although researchers found a link between eating salty foods and faster cellular aging, they did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between the two. "This is early research, and it needs to be replicated. But it does suggest that high sodium intake impacts the telomere shortening process," Zhu said.