Do you really need less salt?

(BPT) - More research seems to contradict the oft-stated notion that we eat too much salt. The latest such study appeared in The Lancet medical journal. The study found that for the majority of people there is no health benefit from a low-salt diet and no harm from the average salt consumption of most people.

The lead scientist working on this study, Dr. Andrew Mente of McMaster University, worked with researchers around the globe to monitor the salt intake and health of more than 95,000 individuals in 18 countries for an average of eight years. They also monitored the associations between sodium and potassium intake and blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and mortality.

They found that most people around the world already are in the healthy range of sodium consumption — between 3,000 and 5,000 mg per day — and that people who consumed salt at the higher end of the healthy range had better health outcomes and fewer incidences of heart attacks. Only in China, where consumption was over 5,000 mg per day, was intake associated with cardiovascular disease and stroke. In addition, they found a positive effect of increased potassium consumption, noting, “All major cardiovascular outcomes decreased with increasing potassium intake in all countries.”

Despite this new research the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to insist that Americans should consume no more than 2,300 mg per day of sodium and the American Heart Association recommends a daily maximum of 1,500 mg. Americans currently consume an average of 3,400 mg per day.

Dr. Martin O’Donnell, also at McMaster University and a co-author of the study, said, “Public health strategies should be based on best evidence. There is no convincing evidence that people with moderate or average sodium intake need to reduce their sodium intake for prevention of heart disease and stroke.”

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