This new study goes against everything we have heard from doctors for years. Taking a moderate amount of salt in each day appears to be healthier than once thought. Lowering salt intake is proven to reduce high blood pressure and lead to overall better heart health. Researchers at McMaster University in Canada discovered that people who ate a moderate amount of salt had the lowest risk for heart disease and problems when compared to those who had high-salt diets.
- Moderate salt intake was linked to the lowest risk of cardiovascular events.
- A higher intake of sodium was associated with an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular events.
- A low intake of salt was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular death and hospitalization for heart failure.
This study found that with lower levels of sodium, hormone levels and unhealthy blood fats were increased. Critics argue that the study has too many flaws to debunk current evidence that supports cutting back on sodium for overall improved heart health. People on low-sodium diets had an average 2.5% increase in their cholesterol and a 7% increase in the blood fat triglycerides when compared to those who ate moderate amounts of sodium. High cholesterol and triglyceride levels are known to be associated with an increased risk of heart disease and this leads to strokes and heart attacks.
The researchers are unclear why cutting back on sodium causes more production of cholesterol and blood fat, but studies show it does. They suspect this is due to the boosted levels of the hormones renin and aldosterone that the body produces to raise blood pressure. According to Dr. Graudal, an associate researcher of the study, believes that there is not sufficient evidence to change guidelines at this time.
He maintains that you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing the amount of salt you eat each day and in turn reduce blood pressure, but his study showed that this effect is only one percent. Basically, he found that the lowering of the blood pressure was not real significant with a low sodium dietary intake.
Tips to Avoiding Excess Sodium Intake
Your doctor may require you to watch your sodium intake. Here are some strategies for cutting back on salt, yet getting enough to maintain heart health:
- Keep a journal of what you eat and not the sodium content. Pay close attention to your consumption of sodium and keep that number over 2.3 grams (2300 milligrams) and below 7 grams (7000 milligrams).
- If you notice you are exceeding the amount set by your doctor because you are eating out a lot, start packing your lunch or taking along you meal. Restaurants cook with salt, as it is a preservative. Many low sodium options are available at some food places.
- Check online to see if a restaurant has a menu posted. Scan over it and seek out low sodium options.
- Eat fresh greens, salads, fruits, and whole grain breads.
- Choose broiled, roasted, or grilled meats instead of marinated steak and salty pork meats.
- Read nutrition labels on your foods and you will quickly learn what is high in sodium and what is not.
- Take the salt shaker off your dining table and replace it with a herb and spice one. Mrs. Dash is a great alternative to salt.
- Avoid lemon pepper because it has a high salt content.