The current issue of The Lancet, one of the oldest and most prestigious medical journals, features a new study from the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences. The study shows that for the vast majority of people there is no health benefit from a low salt diet and no harm from the average salt consumption of most people around the globe today.
This research, Urinary sodium excretion, blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and mortality: a community-level prospective epidemiological cohort study, was led by Dr. Andrew Mente of McMaster University who worked with researchers from around the globe. The researchers monitored the salt intake and health of over 95,000 individuals in 18 countries for an average of 8 years. They also monitored the associations between sodium and potassium intake and blood pressure and cardiovascular disease and mortality.
They found that people around the world already eat in the healthy range of sodium consumption—between 3,000 and 5,000 mg per day, and that people who consumed salt at the higher end of the safe range actually had better health outcomes and fewer incidences of heart attacks. Only in China, where consumption was over 5,000 mg per day, was intake associated with cardiovascular disease and stroke. In addition, they found a positive effect of increased potassium consumption, noting that “All major cardiovascular outcomes decreased with increasing potassium intake in all countries.”
In an editorial published in the very same journal, Drs. F.H. Messerli, L. Hofstetter, and S. Bangalore, from the University Hospital in Bern, Switzerland, the Mount Sinai Health Medical Center in New York, NY, USA and the New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, respectively, stated:
Arguments put forward about the relation between salt and cardiovascular disease reflect a stance that is more befitting of medieval ecclesiasts than modern day scientists.”
Despite this new research the FDA continues to insist that Americans should consume no more than 2,300 mg per day of sodium and American Heart Association recommends a daily maximum of 1,500 mg. Americans currently consume and average of 3,400 Mg/day.
Dr. Martin O’Donnell, also at McMaster University and a co-author of the study, said:
Public health strategies should be based on best evidence. There is no convincing evidence that people with moderate or average sodium intake need to reduce their sodium intake for prevention of heart disease and stroke.”