We try to avoid having salt to prevent the risk of developing high blood pressure. We don’t want unnecessary pressure that converts to cardiovascular diseases. But this crazy habit can pose health problems for us.
Sadly, the moment we know we have high blood pressure or heart diseases we make it a point to leave out the salt. But two studies that were conducted on this topic concluded that reducing salt or having a low-salt diet has no effect on your condition. “Previously it was believed that the lower you go the better. What these studies show collectively is that there is an optimal level, and lower is not necessarily better,” said Dr. Andrew Mente of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, chief author of the blood pressure study.
“If people are eating a very high level of sodium and they reduce their intake, you get a large reduction in blood pressure,” he said. “But if you’re eating a moderate level of sodium – about what most North Americans eat – and you reduce it to a lower level, you’re not really getting much in return as far as blood pressure reduction is concerned.”
The most dramatic evidence was the study that looked at the link between sodium intake and death, heart attacks and strokes using urine samples to estimate sodium consumption. Led by Mente’s colleague at McMaster, Dr. Martin O’Donnell, it found that consuming less than 3 grams of sodium per day increased the risk of death or major cardiovascular events by 27 percent compared to people who consumed 4 to 6 grams daily.
The daily recommended amount of sodium level was 3 to 6 grams per day. “Both higher and lower levels of estimated sodium excretion were associated with increased risk,” the O’Donnell team concluded.
But Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University has a strong debate to oppose this one. Mozaffarian argued that O’Donnell and Mente studies derived their results from the same research project, known as the PURE study. “When you have a single study like the PURE study, that’s one study in the context of many,” said Dr. Mozaffarian. Some have suggested a risk for very-low salt intake while others have not.
Not only does the weight of the evidence suggest that there is no risk in aggressive salt reduction, Mozaffarian said. “You don’t have any plausible biology to explain why you’d get an uptick in risk with low sodium intake.”
“The gold standard is 24-hour urine collection, and they didn’t use it. And even then your sodium intake may vary a lot from day to day,” he said. There’s another reason for skepticism. The PURE study assessed sodium consumption based on a single urine sample collected each morning. Antman called that a “very unreliable method” for measuring salt intake.
No matter which argument you want to support, the bottomline is that high sodium is bad for health, but it is important to have sodium in moderation. Sodium is what balances out the liquids in the body and is responsible for muscle contraction. Do not leave out this mineral out; it is what contributes to the proper functioning of our nervous system.