A new study reviewed the evidence supporting the theory that limiting salt intake may help people live longer.
Researchers from James Cook University Hospital in the United Kingdom investigated whether restricting dietary salt intake would provide protection from adverse heart events or mortality.
In the study, researchers identified 462 papers of which 14 papers were chosen as the best evidence on the subject. The author, journal, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes, results and weaknesses were calculated.
The authors concluded that restricting sodium intake to levels below 6 grams per day, as most international guidelines recommend, clearly reduces blood pressure and in turn may reduce the need for blood pressure medications by as much as 30 percent. However, the ability of dietary sodium restriction to reduce the incidence of heart problems is more controversial due to the lack of adequately powered randomized trials or observational studies.
Still, a low-sodium diet has been shown to significantly reduce an individual's chance of developing coronary heart disease. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there are no adverse effects associated with a low-sodium diet.
Sodium is crucial for a proper fluid balance in the body and the healthy functioning of muscles. However, most Americans consume significantly more of this mineral than is necessary, or even healthy.
Salting food or purchasing high sodium products is not necessary to receive adequate amounts of this mineral. Americans receive enough sodium in their diets by eating a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein and milk without any additives. The NIH place a strong emphasis on the reduction of salt intake as a means of preventing, as well as recovering from, coronary heart disease.
1) Walker J, MacKenzie AD, Dunning J. Does reducing your salt intake make you live longer? Interact Cardiovasc Thorac Surg. 2007 Dec;6(6):793-8. Epub 2007 Sep 2.