Has Salt Gotten an Unfair Shake?




Salt has a bad rap for raising blood pressure and risk for heart disease and stroke, but some studies have questioned the low-salt mantra. For example, the Framingham Offspring Study followed more than 2,600 men and women for 16 years and found that those who consumed less than 2,500 mg of sodium daily had higher blood pressure than those who consumed more.

This flies in the face of limits recommended by the American Heart Association of 2,300 mg of sodium daily, and ideally no more than 1,500 mg daily for most older people. It’s become a muddled issue.

Enter the Salt Sensitivity Study at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. An NIH-funded research project that’s been going on for the past 10 years, it’s shedding some new light on the salt scene.

The Breakthrough

“A low-salt diet may not be beneficial to everyone and may paradoxically increase blood pressure in some individuals,” says the study’s principal investigator, Robin Felder, PhD. Bottom line: Each of us has a unique sweet spot for salt intake, called a “personal salt index” by the researchers, and your health risks will be lowest if you eat the right amount—not much more or less than your optimum amount.


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