Pass the salt please

By: Information sourced from Science Daily

For many years nutritional scientists and public health organisations across the developed world have recommended that our dietary intake of sodium (salt) does not exceed one teaspoon a day, otherwise we increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. New research published this month however suggests that unless you are consuming more than 2.5 teaspoons of salt a day there are no increased health risks.

That's good news for those of us who love vegetables since vegetables are much tastier with salt.

Aside from taste, it really is good news for those of us who love vegetables because the study also found that any health risk of sodium intake is virtually eliminated if people improve their diet quality by adding fruits, vegetables, dairy foods, potatoes, and other potassium rich foods.

It's nothing I haven't been saying for years but for a health message to be picked up by the public health system there needs to be sufficient data because without data - they say - it's just someone else's opinion !

The study, published in The Lancet (one of the world's oldest, most prestigious, and best known general medical journals) by scientists of the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University, Hamilton Health Sciences, and research colleagues from 21 countries shows that for the vast majority of individuals, sodium consumption does not increase health risks except for those who eat more than five grams a day, the equivalent of 2.5 teaspoons of salt.

Fewer than five per cent of individuals in developed countries exceed that level.

The study followed 94,000 people, aged 35 to 70, for an average of eight years in communities from18 countries around the world and found an associated risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes only where the average intake is greater than five grams of sodium a day,.

China is the only country in their study where 80 per cent of communities have a sodium intake of more than five grams a day. In the other countries, the majority of the communities had an average sodium consumption of 3 to 5 grams a day (equivalent to 1.5 to 2.5 teaspoons of salt).

The World Health Organization recommends consumption of less than two grams of sodium -- that's one teaspoon of salt -- a day as a preventative measure against cardiovascular disease, but there is little evidence in terms of improved health outcomes that individuals ever achieve at such a low level," said Andrew Mente, first author of the study and a PHRI researcher. He added that the American Heart Association recommends even less -- 1.5 grams of sodium a day for individuals at risk of heart disease.

"Only in the communities with the most sodium intake -- those over five grams a day of sodium -- which is mainly in China, did we find a direct link between sodium intake and major cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke.

"In communities that consumed less than five grams of sodium a day, the opposite was the case. Sodium consumption was inversely associated with myocardial infarction or heart attacks and total mortality, and no increase in stroke."

Mente added: "We found all major cardiovascular problems, including death, decreased in communities and countries where there is an increased consumption of potassium which is found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, dairy foods, potatoes and nuts and beans."
Story Source:
Materials provided by McMaster University.

McMaster University. "Pass the salt: Study finds average consumption safe for heart health: Public health strategies should be based on best evidence." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 August 2018.>.


Aug 17 2018 3:16PM
I find it reckless that you are handing out what is essentially medical advice without a medical degree. Cardiac patients reading this may assume that increasing salt consumption is okay without any prior consultation with a medical doctor. Until that advice comes from my cardiologist, I'll take it with a grain of salt.
Comment by: Mandy

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