Wisdom of low-salt diet called into question

Salt consumption is one of the areas in which those at risk of cardiovascular conditions are required to have less fun eating, and traditional wisdom long held that a reduction in salt was key in managing heart conditions and other co-morbid illnessses.

But a new study suggests that beliefs regarding salt consumption may be flawed, although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not support its findings:

Dr. Peter Briss, a medical director at the centers, said that the study was small; that its subjects were relatively young, with an average age of 40 at the start; and that with few cardiovascular events, it was hard to draw conclusions. And the study, Dr. Briss and others say, flies in the face of a body of evidence indicating that higher sodium consumption can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.

“At the moment, this study might need to be taken with a grain of salt,” he said.

The European study was published in JAMA, and included nearly 4,000 middle-aged Europeans without high blood pressure or cardiovascular diseases and tracked them for the better part of eight years. But what the study found was that the less salt participants consumed, the more likely they were to succumb to heart disease- “50 people in the lowest third of salt consumption (2.5 grams of sodium per day) died during the study as compared with 24 in the medium group (3.9 grams of sodium per day) and 10 in the highest salt consumption group (6.0 grams of sodium per day).” And while the biggest salt consumers had a slight increase in systolic blood pressure, there was no overall increase in hypertension.

In the New York Times piece on the study, several experts debate the feasibility of ever discovering the true impact of salt consumption, as the level of salt found in processed foods makes it nearly impossible to do long-term, controlled studies of individuals on low-sodium diets without pre-existing conditions necessitating said diets.