Rub salt in the wound


In recent years, industry has come under pressure to cut the levels of salt in some foods, and many manufacturers have been working towards sodium reduction strategies – much to the delight of campaigners who stress that reducing salt intake lowers blood pressure and prevents strokes and heart attacks.

New research, however, suggests that people who slash their salt intake to half the recommended six grams per day may be more at risk of having a heart attack or stroke, with scientists warning that eating less than three grams of salt a day could lead to serious health problems in the future.

The study, which analysed more than 130,000 people and used data from 49 countries, found current health recommendations appear to be confined only to those who have high blood pressure.

Professor Andrew Mente, epidemiologist at McMaster University, explains, “While our data highlights the importance of reducing high salt intake in people with hypertension, it does not support reducing salt intake to low levels.

“Our findings are important because they show that lowering sodium is best targeted at those with hypertension who also consume high sodium diets.”

Paper co-author Dr Martin O’Donnell adds, “This study adds to our understanding of the relationship between salt intake and health, and questions the appropriateness of current guidelines that recommend low sodium intake in the entire population.

“An approach that recommends salt in moderation, particularly focused on those with hypertension, appears more in line with current evidence.”

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