Why Low-Sodium Diets Might Not Really Be Better For Your Heart

Salt has been the enemy of everyone concerned about heart attacks and heart disease for decades now, but the relationship between high salt intake and heart disease is tenuous, Scientific American says.

Photo by TheGiantVermin.

Several studies and reviews, including a meta-analysis published this week in the American Journal of Hypertension of seven studies involving 6250 subjects, have found little or no long-term health benefits or reduction in heart disease-related problems from reducing salt intake. “For every study that suggests that salt is unhealthy,” Melinda Wenner Moyer writes, “another does not”.

The issue may be with how individuals respond differently to salt, and certain populations – e.g. African Americans and the elderly – being hypersensitive to salt. Recommendations in the ’70s by the US Senate’s Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs for Americans to cut salt intake by 50 to 85 per cent were based on narrow and perhaps questionable research (like inducing high blood pressure in rats by feeding them nearly 150 times the amount of sodium the average American consumes today).

Low-salt diets, the article points out, could have side effects, including ones that increase blood pressure.

As with most diet and health issues, with salt intake, moderation is likely key as well.

It’s Time to End the War on Salt [Scientific American]

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