Low-salt diets increase risk of stroke and heart disease, study says
by Elizabeth Walling
(NaturalNews) For 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 much.
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 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 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 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.
About the author:
Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness.