Lowering salt intake may not benefit health, study finds

By Marilyn Malara

HAMILTON, Ontario, May 21 (UPI) -- A new study may put a halt to unneeded low-salt diets, as it claims such diets actually increase risk for cardiovascular disease.

Researchers from McMaster University, Hamilton Health Services and the Population Health Research Institute say the only people who need to reduce sodium in their diets are those with hypertension and/or those who already consume high levels of salt.


The global study, published by The Lancet journal and involving over 130,000 participants in 49 countries, focused on the relationships between salt intake, blood pressure and health issues like heart disease, stroke and death. Researchers saw that low-sodium intake was more associated to heart attacks, strokes and death than average salt intake.

"These are extremely important findings for those who are suffering from high blood pressure," said the study's lead author Andrew Mente, from PHRI and McMaster's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

"While our data highlights the importance of reducing high salt intake in people with hypertension, it does not support reducing salt intake to low levels," he said.

"Low sodium intake reduces blood pressure modestly, compared to average intake, but low sodium intake also has other effects, including adverse elevations of certain hormones which may outweigh any benefits. The key question is not whether blood pressure is lower with very low salt intake, instead it is whether it improves health," Mente added.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans get most of their sodium from processed foods and that from restaurants. A study released in January saw that 89 percent of adults and over 90 percent of children exceeded daily recommendations for sodium intake and recommended consuming less than 2,300 mg of dietary sodium each day for those 14 years old or older.

Latest Headlines