Health

Heart experts double down on salt recommendations

Nov. 5, 2012, 2:16 p.m.

Heavy salt consumption can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease – the number-one cause of death in the U.S. (Sgt. Pepperedjane/Flickr Creative Commons)


You may have rejoiced upon hearing of a few recent studies that claimed the link between salt intake and heart disease was "widely misinterpreted."

In this case, that meant a finding that there wasn't enough data to conclude that reducing how much salt you eat cuts your risk of cardiovascular disease.

That claim flew in the face of recommendations by the American Heart Association (AHA) to limit daily sodium consumption to less than 1,500 milligrams a day, which is less than a teaspoon. But that claim didn't sway the AHA – instead, the agency doubled down on its previous recommendations with new research that reaffirms that limiting salt intake is the healthiest course of action.

"Americans of all ages, regardless of individual risk factors, can improve their heart health and reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by restricting their daily consumption of sodium to less than 1,500 milligrams," said the CEO of the AHA, Nancy Brown, in a statement.

In the new study, which appeared in the AHA's journal, Circulation, researchers say that any claims that the relationship between salt intake and heart disease is inconclusive are riddled with "serious methodological weakness – ones that "[limits] the value" of such claims.

Dr. Paul Whelton, the study's lead author, said the focus right now shouldn't be on changing the AHA's current salt guidelines, but "finding effective ways to implement" them.

According to the AHA, most Americans consume twice the recommended amount of salt every day: 3,400 milligrams, to be precise. A lot of that comes from processed and prepared foods, a class of food to which South Los Angeles (or anywhere, really) is no stranger.

Heavy salt consumption can lead to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease – the number-one cause of death in the U.S. Reducing the salt in a person's diet, said the AHA, is a crucial part of eating healthy.

Photo by Sgt. Pepperedjane via Flickr Creative Commons.

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