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Salt Is Not Bad For You, Health Risks Wrong Suggests New Research

For years doctors have told the public to reduce their salt intake, but now researchers finally put to bed the myth that salt is bad for you. 

The list of apparent illnesses associated with salt intake are endless. Two of the big ones,  cardiovascular disease and health failure, are not associated with salt intake according to new research.

A study published online by JAMA Internal Medicine says:

Data on sodium restriction among older adults are scarce, especially those with their blood pressure on target. Achieving a sodium intake of less than 1,500 mg/day as currently recommended for adults over 50 also is difficult for older adults in part because of long-held dietary habits. So the incremental benefit of restricting sodium to lower targets needs to be evaluated, according to background information.

Andreas P. Kalogeropoulos, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., of Emory University, Atlanta, and coauthors looked at the association between dietary sodium intake and mortality, CVD and HF in a group of 2,642 adults who ranged in age from 71 to 80 (51.2 percent of the participants were female and 61.7 percent were white). The authors analyzed 10-year follow-up data on the adults who were participating in this community-based study where dietary sodium intake was assessed at baseline with a questionnaire.

After 10 years, 881 of the participants had died, 572 had developed CVD and 398 had developed HF. Sodium intake was not associated with mortality, or new development of CVD or HF, according to study results. Ten-year mortality rates were 33.8 percent, 30.7 percent and 35.2 percent among participants consuming less than 1,500 mg/d, 1,500 to 2,300 mg/d, and greater than 2,300 mg/d of sodium, respectively.

“In conclusion, we observed that sodium intake estimated by FFQ [food frequency questionnaire] was not associated with mortality or risk for CVD and HF in a cohort of adults 71 to 80 years old. … Our data emphasize the need for stronger evidence, preferably from rigorous controlled trials testing additional thresholds for sodium intake, before applying a policy of further sodium restriction to older adults beyond the current recommendation for the general adult population (2,300 mg/d),” the study concludes.