Do you really need to cut back on salt?

Published on Mon Sep 12 15:44:00 UTC 2011
Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D.

Do you really need to cut back on salt?

In spite of decades of advice to lower our salt intake to prevent high blood pressure, recent headlines screamed that a low-salt diet is ineffective—spurred by the results of a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension. The New York Times ran with “Cutting Salt Has Little Effect on Heart Risk” and the UK’s Daily Mail used, “Cutting back on salt ‘does not make you healthier’ (despite nanny state warnings).” In the study, researchers from the UK and the U.S. looked at seven studies with a total of 6,489 participants and the impact of lowering salt intake. The conclusion was that eating less salt did not prevent heart attacks, strokes or early death.

After reading that, friends are cornering me—because I’m a nutrition professor and the chair-elect of the American Heart Association (AHA) Nutrition Committee—wondering if they can stop watching their salt intake.

Related: “Bad” Foods You Should Be Eating

So are the headlines to be believed?  Did the results of this study turn decades of advice about lowering salt intake on its head?  I don’t think so and here’s why:

Related: 10 Easy Ways to Help Your Heart
15 Foods You Should Be Eating for Your Heart

In light of all this, what should you do?   You can retrain your taste buds to enjoy food with less salt.

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