Study Shows Average Consumption of Salt Good for Heart Health

Adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day say the NHS

Adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day say the NHS

For a vast majority of individuals, sodium consumption does not increase heart risks, except for those who eat more than five grams a day, the equivalent of 2.5 teaspoons of salt. The current paper reports blood pressure and cardiovascular community outcomes in 94,000 adults from 21 countries based on estimated sodium and potassium intake calculated from a single fasting morning urine specimen.

The finding supports growing criticism that current guideline recommendations to dramatically lower salt intake in the general population may be misguided.

Data from the ongoing Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study was used in the analysis, and 95,767 participants aged 35-70 years in 369 communities in 18 countries [2] were included in the study.

Higher sodium intake was associated with increased blood pressure and increased incidence of stroke, but the association was found in communities with very high sodium intake (mostly in China) and not others.

The data is also at odds with World Health Organization guidelines which recommend a cut in sodium intake to less than two grams a day worldwide, in a bid to reduce rates of high blood pressure and strokes linked to high salt intakes.

Experts not involved in the study were sharply critical of its methodology, and said its findings should be taken with more than a few grains of salt. Higher sodium intake was associated with lower rates of myocardial infarction and total mortality.

It has been reinforced time and again how excessive intake of salt can constrict blood vessels and lead to elevated blood pressure levels and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Martin O'Donnell, study author and Associate Professor of Medicine, said: "There is no convincing evidence that people with moderate or average sodium intake need to reduce their sodium intake for prevention of heart disease and stroke".

The study also suggests that too much salt in the diet is not a widespread global problem, though some populations which consume very high levels of salt would likely benefit from curbing salt. An increased cardiovascular risk was only observed in communities where the average intake was greater than 5 g/day.

According to Professor Mente, the researchers found a decrease in all major cardiovascular issues when there was an increase in the consumption of potassium, which is found abundantly in fruits, vegetables, dairy products, nuts, potatoes, and beans.

Scientists have found a daily intake of salt that will not harm a person. The simple fact that a trial looking at salt restriction has to be done in the federal prison population indicates that curtailing salt intake is notoriously hard.

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