WEDNESDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Although cutting back on
salt does lower blood pressure, new research finds that it may also
increase levels of cholesterol, triglycerides and other risk
factors for heart disease.
At this point, though, it's not entirely clear what the findings
mean for long-term health, according to the study, which appears
online Nov. 9 in the
American Journal of Hypertension.
"In my opinion, people should generally not worry about their salt intake," said study author Dr. Niels Graudal, senior consultant in internal medicine and rheumatology at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.
For decades, health experts have been saying that reducing
sodium consumption lowers the risk for heart disease and stroke.
And there's a powerful new government push to reduce salt in
prepared and processed foods.
New U.S. dietary guidelines now recommend that people aged 2 and
older limit daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams
People aged 51 and older, blacks and anyone with high blood
pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease should consider going
down to 1,500 mg per day, many experts say.
And the American Heart Association believes the
1,500-milligram-a-day recommendation should apply to
The average American probably consumes 3,400 milligrams of
sodium a day which, by these standards, is way too much.
But is it?
One European study recently found that lower sodium excretion
was associated with an increased risk of heart-related deaths and
higher sodium excretion was not linked with increased risks for
blood pressure or complications from heart disease in healthy
The study published this week reviewed data from 167 studies
that compared high-sodium diets to low-sodium diets.
Less salt did lower blood pressure in whites, blacks and Asians
who had either normal blood pressure or high blood pressure.
But this came with significant increases in levels of
cholesterol, triglycerides, the enzyme renin (involved in
regulating blood pressure) and the hormones noradrenaline and
adrenaline (which can affect blood pressure and heart rate).
It's unclear at this point if these changes would translate,
over the long run, into more heart attacks or strokes.
But the findings do raise the issue that not all salt consumers
are created equal.
"There are those who are more salt-sensitive than others," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
As for the general public, the message is still the same: Less
salt is probably better for your health, Steinbaum said.
And even people who do keep their sodium intake within normal
bounds should know that might not be enough.
"People need to moderate their lifestyle with better mineral intake, more plant-based foods and more exercise in their daily lives," said Karen Congro, director of the Wellness for Life Program at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City. "Sodium reduction is not going to solve their problems 100 percent."
Find out more about the new dietary guidelines for Americans
U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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