years we've been told to lower our salt intake for our health. Individuals at
risk for heart attack are especially admonished to drop their salt intake as low
as possible. As it turns out, this seemingly harmless recommendation is actually
putting us at a higher risk for conditions like heart disease and stroke.
Although salt has been construed as a vial substance responsible for ruining our
heart health, new research says too little salt may be just as harmful as too
Salt Your Food... in Moderation
Researchers from McMaster University in
Ontario looked at data from drug trials involving nearly 30,000 individuals who
already had heart disease or diabetes. Participants in these trials had their
sodium intake measured through urine analysis and were followed for an average
of four to five years to record the incidence of heart-related hospitalizations
After adjusting for factors like medications, weight, smoking
and cholesterol levels, researchers found that too little salt is doing harm
instead of good. Those who consumed between 4,000 and 6,000 milligrams of sodium
per day--more than double the current recommendations--were at the least
risk for heart disease and stroke.
People who ate a diet lower in salt
didn't experience less risk, but more. Researchers found that people who consume
2,000 to 3,000 mg of sodium per day were actually 20 percent more likely to
experience death or hospitalization related to heart conditions, compared to
those consuming between 4,000 and 6,000 mg daily.
But don't take this as
advice that salt intake should be completely unlimited. Moderation appears to be
key because consuming too much salt puts you at even higher risk. Those who
consumed more than 8,000 mg of sodium per day were 50 to 70 percent more likely
to have a stroke or heart attack, or to be hospitalized or die from heart
Results from this study indicate that people who already consume
a moderate amount of sodium do not benefit from lowering their salt intake. In
fact, it may even harm them.
Dr. Martin O'Donnell, lead author of the
study and associate clinical professor of medicine at McMaster University, says,
"When you take people at more moderate intake levels, there is emerging
uncertainty as to whether there are long-term benefits of reducing sodium intake
The new report, published in this week's issue of the Journal
of the American Medical Association, contradicts what many of us have been told
about salt. The research team involved urges officials to recommend a safer
range of sodium intake rather than to set a single rigid limit.
better, of course, would be a recommendation to choose a natural salt like sea
salt instead of highly refined commercial salt, which often contains harmful
additives and lacks a balanced mineral profile.Sources for this