A new study out from Canada says that people lowering their salt intake are at greater risk from strokes and heart disease. One of the great strengths of the study was that it was a cohort study in that it studied real people over a period of time as opposed to case controlled where retrospectively people are asked about their intake when they are ill. The article says:
“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 and deaths.
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 theleastrisk 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 disease.
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 further.”
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.
Even 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.”
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