Mythbuster- Cutting down on salt may not boost heart health


Food industry is innovating products around reducing salt content in food owing to benefit of controlling the blood pressure.  Common salt contains sodium, which is believed to regulate blood pressure and hence helps hypertension patients, if taken in lower range. Owing to this, salts containing potassium as main ingredient have been around for many years.  Hypertension is one of the major risk factors for heart attack or stroke. A recent study suggests that reducing the intake of salt may not be as beneficial to your heart health as perceived and researchers want to conduct a large study to hammer this out.

What is recommended level of salt intake?

There are guidelines that recommend use of common salt for instance, U.S. guidelines call for less than 2.3g of salt daily, or 1.5g for certain people who are more at risk for high blood pressure or heart diseases. Agencies want to reduce the salt intake and the World Health Organization (WHO) lists reducing salt intake among its top 10 “best buys” for reducing rates of chronic disease.

What did the latest study reveal about reducing salt intake?

The main conclusion from the review published by The Cochrane Library revealed that reducing intake of common salt can result in slight reduction in blood pressure, but may not translate into lower death or heart disease risk. However, there is consensus in the medical community that consumption of too much salt is not good for an individual.

Rod Taylor of the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry at Exeter University led the review of seven studies that together included 6,489 participants. The main conclusions from the review are:

  • The data so far linking salt consumption to lowering of blood pressure and ultimately leading...

    to improvement in heart health is small.
  • There is definite reduction in blood pressure by lower salt intake, but it might not lead to overall health improvement.
  • The people in the trials that were analyzed only reduced their salt intake by a moderate amount, so the effect on blood pressure and heart disease was not large.

Researchers want to conduct a larger trial to tease out relationship between heart health and salt intake suggesting data to be collected from at least 18,000 people before they could expect to identify any clear health benefits.  The current review results were compared to the results in 2004, which also failed to provide enough evidence about the effects of reducing salt intake on death rates or on rates of heart disease.

I think from consumer point of view, I would like to know, how much of an impact does reduce salt has on our health.  Food companies are in a rush to flood the market with products having low salt such has soups, ketchup, chips, etc leading to increase in price for the products.  I don’t think consuming more salt is, in any case, beneficial, but consumer need to know the recommended range, so that one is comfortable with what is being eaten.

Healthy Eating!


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