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Low-Salt Diet May Not Be as Heart Healthy as Once Thought

December 1, 2011

For a long time, medical experts have believed that a diet low in salt can promote heart health. This is because salt can lead to high blood pressure, which is one of the contributing factors of heart disease. However, a recent study has cast doubt on the benefits of a low-salt diet.

is a low-salt diet heart healthy? Researchers who conducted the study examined data collected from 167 previous studies, in which subjects were randomly given either a high-salt diet or low-salt diet. The subjects were observed for an average of at least four weeks. The results of the study revealed that a low-salt diet only had a small effect on blood pressure. However, people with hypertension seemed to benefit more from a diet low in salt, showing a blood pressure reduction of 3.5%.

Furthermore, it was discovered that a low-salt diet increased cholesterol levels among the subjects by 2.5% and triglyceride levels by 7%. It also increased hormones that regulate the salt levels of the body, causing it to retain salt instead of excreting it in urine.

According to researcher Dr. Niels Graudal from the Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, there is a possibility that the positive and negative effects of a low-salt diet will cancel each other out, and therefore, the diet may not have significant effect on heart health.

There were other studies in the past that raised questions about the heart healthy benefits of a diet low in salt. In July this year, a review of studies that was published in a Cochrane Library journal found that moderate reduction in the consumption of salt did not reduce the risk of heart disease.

In response to the results of the study, a professor from the Miller School of Medicine in the University of Miami, Dr. Jochen Reiser, said that the findings certainly warrant more research, but it is still too early to revise previous recommendations to reduce the consumption of salt.