Simple Palate: Low-Salt Diet Not Effective, Research Says

By Cielestia Calbay

Take this with a grain of salt.

A recent study is stirring up controversy as it found that low-salt diets may not be as beneficial for us as we’d thought.

The study, published in the May 4 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, reported low-salt diets don’t prevent high blood pressure and may actually increase the risk of heart attacks or strokes.

The study involved 3,681 middle-aged European men and women who did not have high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. The participants were studied for eight years. Researchers assessed their sodium consumption at the start and end of the study, and then measured the amount of sodium present in their urine over a 24-hour period. This was the most accurate way to determine how much sodium was consumed because all the sodium that is consumed is excreted in urine within 24 hours.

Researchers found that participants with the lowest sodium excretion were 56 percent more likely to have died from cardiovascular disease than those with the highest sodium excretion. In the study, 50 people in the lowest third of salt consumption group (2.5 grams per day) had died during the study as compared with 24 in the medium salt consumption group (3.9 grams per day) and 10 in the highest salt consumption group (6 grams per day).

Experts say the study is more suggestive than conclusive and don’t recommend dietary changes. Other experts also criticize the study for being too small and for using subjects who were too young, as most were in their 40s.

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