Low-salt diets could be harmful to heart health, study says

Share this content:

Holding the salt no longer may be such a good idea, according to a new study.

Contradicting longstanding wisdom, the study finds that a low-salt diet could actually increase the risk of dying from heart disease. Researchers collected data on 7,278 men and women who participated in the Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and examined the number of deaths from heart disease and the number of deaths from any other cause.

During a follow-up after more than 13 years, researchers found that taking in less than 2,400 milligrams of salt a day was associated with a 50% higher risk of heart disease. Also, for each 1,000-milligram reduction in salt intake, the risk for cardiovascular mortality increased by 1%, according to lead researcher Hillel W. Cohen, an assistant professor of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

Cohen said the findings of this study do not support the current guidelines set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and American Heart Association recommending that people consume no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium (about 1 teaspoon of table salt) a day. The study was presented at an American Heart Association meeting in Washington, D.C.