My surprisingly simple advice about salt and heart disease

This week, I reported on some emerging science that should finally crush the old myths about fat and heart disease. But there’s one topic about heart health I haven’t touched much on this week: salt.

According to the Great Salt Scam, as I call it, salt causes high blood pressure and heart disease. But as you can probably deduce…salt does not in fact cause high blood pressure or heart disease. Study after study confirms this position.

Nevertheless–the salt myth still lingers around because dieticians and nutritionists don’t know the science. In fact, I just came across an article on a popular health website written by a nutritionist about the importance of avoiding salt.

First, she cited a recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine that found increased sodium intake was not associated with higher risk of mortality over the course of 10 years in Medicare patients over 65 years old.

This finding shocked the nutritionist. She said “countless studies” show a link between high sodium intake and an increase in cardiovascular risks.

Now, here’s the problem. This diet “expert” doesn’t know the actual science. There haven’t been “countless studies” that show a link between high sodium and cardiovascular disease risk. Furthermore, no studies show reducing sodium results in lower heart disease.

Popular “group think” led people to assume the salt myth was true without any science to back it up. Nutritionists should know better. But apparently, far too many of them don’t. They seem to sit back and accept the “received wisdom” from government health “experts” without doing their own investigation…or their own thinking.

Later, the nutritionist said, “health issues linked to an excessive intake [of salt], including high blood pressure and stroke, are well documented.”

Here again, such findings have never been well documented. If you followed the real science, there is no surprise here and there is no sudden reversal.

The fact is, a low sodium diet can increase the risk of heart disease by elevating hormone levels that contribute to cardiovascular damage. And other studies found numerous other health risks associated with a low sodium diet.

Turns out–the low-salt myth isn’t just useless. If you follow that bad advice, you can actually harm your health.

Source:

  1. “Dietary Sodium Content, Mortality, and Risk for Cardiovascular Events in Older Adults,” JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(3):410-419
  1. “How much salt it good for you?” Everyday health (www.everydayhealth.com) 1/28/2015

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