'Average' Salt Intake Doesn't Harm the Heart

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Dietary salt alone doesn’t put most people into a higher risk category for health problems like heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure (hypertension). This is according to a study conducted at the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences, both in Ontario, along with scientists from 21 other countries.

The study involved 94,000 people, aged 35 to 70, from communities in 18 countries, who were monitored for an average of eight years. Most the study participants had an average daily salt intake of 1.5 to 2.5 teaspoons (3 to 5 grams) — a level that did not appear to raise cardiovascular risks. The researchers observed an increased risk for heart disease and stroke only in people whose average sodium intake exceeded 2.5 teaspoons (more than 5 grams) per day.

In developed areas, fewer than 5 percent of people exceed this amount of sodium. China is the only country studied in which at least 80 percent of the population has a dietary intake of sodium averaging more than 5 grams per day.

Results of this study contradict recommendations for salt intake from the World Health Organization (less than 2 grams) and the American Heart Association (less than 1.5 grams for people at risk for heart disease.) The researchers note that their study also showed an increased risk for cardiovascular problems in people with a high intake of potassium.

Sourced from: The Lancet