May 31, 2016

More on the Salt Debate!

The onus about our need for salt is becoming more of a burden for each person and we are the ones that need to make the decision of how much salt our body needs. The salt debate has now taken a more serious turn with some science behind it. How unbiased the science is will still be part of the debate, but at least I know what my body needs and am learning more each day of what my body it telling me for salt needs.

Most feel that a high salt intake has been linked to increased blood pressure and greater risk for heart problems. The AHA recommended limit of salt is 1,500 milligrams per day. This is the position of the American Heart Association and they will never admit to making a mistake. Now new research is saying that low salt intake may be more harmful.

This study was published in The Lancet and found that low salt intake may raise the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death when compared with an average salt intake.

The study, involving more than 130,000 people from 49 countries, was led by investigators of the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences.

They looked specifically at whether the relationship between sodium (salt) intake and death, heart disease and stroke differs in people with high blood pressure compared to those with normal blood pressure.

The researchers showed that regardless of whether people have high blood pressure, low-sodium intake is associated with more heart attacks, strokes, and deaths compared to average intake.

These are extremely important findings for those who are suffering from high blood pressure,” said Andrew Mente, lead author of the study, a principal investigator of PHRI and an associate professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at 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. Our findings are important because they show that lowering sodium is best targeted at those with hypertension who also consume high sodium diets.”

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium each day - the equivalent to 1 teaspoon of salt.

However, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this year revealed that around 90 percent of Americans consume salt at levels above the recommended limit.

Low salt intake in the study was defined as an intake of less than 3,000 milligrams a day, which is above current recommendations in the United States.
The researchers found that only individuals with high blood pressure appeared to be subject to the risks associated with high salt intake - defined as more than 6,000 milligrams daily.

This new study shows that the risks associated with low-sodium intake – less than three grams per day – are consistent regardless of a patient’s hypertension status. The findings show that while there is a limit below which sodium intake may be unsafe, the harm associated with high sodium consumption appears to be confined to only those with hypertension.

Only about 10 per cent of the population in the global study had both hypertension and high sodium consumption (greater than 6 grams per day).

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