For decades, mainstream medicine blamed heart disease on excess SALT (sodium) in the diet. As such, cardiologists routinely tell their patients with heart disease to restrict salt intake.
But according to an important, new study, restricting salt ISN’T beneficial in these serious cases!
Furthermore, plenty of evidence links not getting ENOUGH salt with a number of serious harms to your health—including to your heart.
Probably because, as I’ll explain, your body NEEDS sodium and other electrolytes to perform basic biological functions…
A long history with salt
Salt has played a critical role throughout human history. Wars were fought about it. Trade routes were opened for it. Even ancient roads were built to bring it to population centers.
We spend so much time and energy acquiring salt because every cell in the human body NEEDS it. Even our tissues and fluids maintain a natural, internal “sea” of saltwater!
Moreover, sodium and other minerals help pass along important electrical impulses throughout your body. These impulses allow you to move your body and pump blood into your heart and tissues.
Of course, it makes sense that we would need salt to function and survive. After all, every single organism on the planet, starting with single-cell organisms, arose from saltwater oceans.
But then, beginning in the 1970s, doctors started recommending people avoid eating salt, as it raises blood pressure and increases heart disease risk.
Of course, now we know they were all wrong, all along.
In fact, there’s plenty of evidence linking a low-salt diet to a HIGHER risk of heart failure…and Type II diabetes (the leading cause of cardio-metabolic heart disease).
Plus, the new study I just mentioned shows a low-salt diet isn’t even warranted in patients with heart failure…
The science continues to speak loudly
For this new study, researchers followed 806 patients from 26 medical centers in Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and New Zealand. The patients were an average age of 67 and had all been diagnosed with chronic heart failure.
First, the researchers split the participants into two groups. One group followed a low-sodium diet and also received nutritional and behavioral counseling. The second group received counseling, without dietary restrictions.
The first group consumed an average of 2,286 mg of sodium per day at the beginning of the study. Then, after a year, that number dropped to an average of 1,658 mg a day.
The second group consumed an average of 2,119 mg of sodium daily at first. And after a year, that number decreased slightly to an average of 2,073 mg a day.
(For comparison, the American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day—and ideally, less than 1,500 mg a day.)
During the course of the study, 15 percent of the first group and 17 percent of the second group were hospitalized or died due to a cardiac event.
And statistically speaking…that’s basically the same.
In other words, there was no difference whatsoever in cardiovascular-related incidences no matter how much sodium the study participants consumed!
These results were SO CONVINCING…the researchers stopped the study halfway through the process!
So, what’s it all mean for you?
General eating patterns matter most
In the end, this study (and many others before it) suggest you don’t need to waste your time cutting back on (or even “tracking”) your sodium intake.
Instead, focus on cutting out all the unhealthy, ultra-processed foods with added salts. (They’re the real culprits when it comes to disease, anyway.) And fill up your plate with all the wholesome foods found in a Mediterranean-type diet.
As a reminder, this healthy, science-backed diet includes:
- Full-fat dairy, including butter, eggs, cheeses, and yogurt
- Wild-caught fish and grass-fed, free-range meat, especially lamb, which has the best nutritional profile of all meats
- Nuts and seeds
- Five fruits and vegetables each day
- Alcohol in moderation
You should also feel free to use a small amount of sea salt in your cooking. (It’s the only kind of salt I ever use!)
Then, if you find your dishes need more flavoring, instead of adding more salt, reach for some healthy spices, like turmeric, cayenne, and even cinnamon. The best part? These spices are featured heavily in the Mediterranean diet, anyway!
You can learn much more about the “Great Salt Scam,” as I call it, in the July 2022 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter (“Are low-sodium recommendations really worth their salt?”). Not yet a newsletter subscriber? Click here now to become one!
“SODIUM-HF Investigators. Reduction of dietary sodium to less than 100 mmol in heart failure (SODIUM-HF): an international, open-label, randomised, controlled trial.” Lancet, 2022;399(10333):1391-1400. doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(22)00369-5