For years, we’ve heard that a high-salt diet could raise your blood pressure. Now, a new report claims that low salt could increase your chance for a stroke or a heart attack. In fact, the news is that recommended doses of salt are too low, and we should consume moderate amounts of salt. This is based on results from a study spanning 49 countries and 130,000 subjects.
The Lancet published the results of the study that was co-authored by Professor Martin O’Donnell and Dr.
Andrew Mente. It states that people with average salt intake are less likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes or death than folks with a salt intake of less than 3 grams per day. The study did agree that those with high blood pressure should decrease their salt consumption to a moderate level rather than to a level that is too low. His study focused on Canada. Citizens there, he said, have the correct daily intake of between 3.5 and 4 grams. The Irish Heart Foundation recommends between 4 and 6 grams per day. Some physicians recommend 2.3 grams, which is about as much as in a teaspoon of table salt.
Professor O’Donnell said that a clinical trial is necessary to research the safety of a low-salt diet and how it relates to strokes and heart attacks.
He contends that his study casts doubt on the current guidelines recommending low salt consumption for everyone.
Dr. Mente stated that while low sodium intake will modestly reduce blood pressure when compared to a moderate amount, it has other effects, such as elevating some hormones that have been shown to affect death rates and increase cardiovascular diseases.
During the studies, the subjects had their blood pressure taken regularly. Their salt intake was measured by urinalysis. Those who were not suffering from high blood pressure were able to consume more than 7 grams of salt without increasing their risk for death or diseases. Those who consumed less than 3 grams per day had a 26 percent increase in their risk for strokes and heart attacks when compared to those whose daily intake was between 4 and 5 grams.
Subjects who already had high blood pressure increased their risk of a heart attack by 23 percent when they consumed more than 7 grams per day. However, those people with hypertension raised their risk to 34 percent when they reduced their intake to less than 3 grams.
Mente also said that it was important to not just look at blood pressure, but to consider actual clinical occurrences, such as strokes, heart attacks and death rates.
Other studies have provided evidence that cast doubt on the notion that reducing salt intake below 3 grams per day will reduce heart-related problems. However, a study with some 6,000 subjects found there was compelling evidence that lowering salt intake could increase incidents of heart disease or stroke.
The Journal of the American Medical Association published research from that same year that showed that if there was less salt found in a person’s urine, there was a higher chance of dying from heart disease. In that study, nearly 4,000 Europeans were studied for eight years. They were middle-aged and in good health. Among those who were in the low-salt group, 50 people died during the study. The moderate-salt group had 24 deaths, and the high-salt group had only 10 people die. That means that the low-salt group had a 56 percent higher chance of heart disease than the group that ate the most salt.
Another factor to be considered is the type of salt being consumed. Processed table salt is very different from natural salt. Good health depends on salt, but not the type that you’ll find in salt shakers in restaurants and homes. Table salt should be replaced by sea salt or kosher salt for optimal health.