Should You Reduce Your Salt Intake?

SaltThere has been a resurgence of the controversy over the effect of sodium chloride or salt on blood pressure and disease. The theory is that by reducing salt intake you reduce blood pressure and ultimately reduce cardiovascular risk. That theory was questioned recently by a researcher who suggested that salt reduction had adverse effects on human hormones and lipids which offset the benefit of the blood pressure drop.

The Cochrane Library compiles and analyzes scientific and medical research and reports on what the data really shows. They reviewed 34 studies of salt reduction and its effect on blood pressure which included 3230 participants. They found that a modest reduction in salt intake for four or more weeks resulted in a significant drop in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in both hypertensive and normotensive patients regardless of their sex or ethnicity. They examined the effects of the salt reduction on hormones and found that there was an increase in plasma rennin activity plus aldosterone and noradrenaline. There was no change in lipid levels. They felt that the drop in blood pressure associated with decreasing your salt intake was not offset by the change in any of these hormone levels.

The authors of the Cochrane Library study concluded that we need to decrease our salt intake. This will likely lower our BP and reduce our risk of heart attack and stroke.  Current recommendations call for us to reduce our salt intake to the 5-6 grams per day level. They suggest cutting it to 3 grams per day.  I will remove the salt shaker from my table and make sure that I advise my patients to do the same.

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