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Scientists Split on Low Salt Debate

August 15, 2014

Two new reports from North America have concluded that whilst it is universally accepted that a high salt diet can have a detrimental effect on health, scientists are still unsure of the benefits of very low sodium intake. The studies both published in the New England Journal of Medicine generally agree that high amounts of salt contribute to a number of medical conditions including high blood pressure, stroke, heart attacks, and kidney problems.

Researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston have concluded that excess salt consumption led to 1.6 million heart related deaths in 2010. They found that during the year average sodium consumption was 3.95 grams per day, much higher than the two grams recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Global intake varied from 2.18 grams in sub-Saharan Africa to 5.51 grams per day in Central Asia.

A study at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario which looked at the effect of very low sodium intake points to the fact that there may be an optimum level required for good health as lead scientist Dr Andrew Mente explained; “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. 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,” he said.

You can view the Tufts University Study here.

You can view the McMaster University Study here.