We all know that too much salt in our diets can bring negative health consequences, but a recent review of literature is calling into question the benefits of dietary salt reduction.
The authors of the review found evidence that reducing salt intake can lower blood pressure slightly. However, existing research was mixed when it came to the effects of reduced dietary salt on the risk of major cardiovascular events such as strokes or heart attacks. One study even suggested that reducing dietary salt may increase the risk of death among patients with congestive heart failure. Additional extensive and long-term research would be needed in order to draw a conclusion as to whether reducing salt intake can lower the risk of a major cardiovascular episode.
To be clear, it is not the link between salt and cardiovascular health that is being questioned. It is known that excess dietary salt can negatively impact both heart health and blood pressure. Rather, as the authors of the study argue, the problem is the dietary advice that many of us are receiving, and the ways in which we are reducing salt intake.
Simply putting away the salt shaker is not going to have much of an effect on our health given that 75% of our daily sodium intake comes from the “invisible salt” found in packaged foods and restaurant meals. Unless food manufacturers and restaurant owners are encouraged to reduce sodium levels in their foods, we are fighting a losing battle to lower the amount of salt we consume on a daily basis.
Though the government recommends no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day, the average American consumes 3,400 mg. Some sodium is an essential part of any healthy diet; the easiest way to get enough without going overboard is to stay away from pre-packaged and processed foods. Stick with fresh fruits, veggies, and meats instead.