We've all been told to watch our salt and sodium intake for optimal health. In fact, new health guidelines recommend adults consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day. But not everyone agrees that a low-salt diet is best. Earlier this year, researchers suggested that the ratio of sodium to potassium — not just a low-sodium diet — was the key to true health, and now a new study is casting more doubt.
The study, which was published in the American Journal of Hypertension, analyzed data from more than 167 studies with people with normal or high blood pressure who were randomly assigned to eat either high- or low-sodium diets. Researchers found that, on the whole, eating less than 2,800 milligrams of sodium a day helped lower blood pressure, but just by a little. People with normal blood pressure had just a 1 percent reduction, and people with high blood pressure had a 3.5 percent drop.
Furthermore, a lower-salt diet was shown to increase levels of some hormones and unhealthy blood fats. People on the lower-sodium diets had an average of a 2.5 percent increase in cholesterol and a 7 percent increase in triglycerides when compared to people who were eating more than 3,450 milligrams of sodium a day (the amount that's close to what the average American eats every day), according to WebMD
Critics say that the research isn't conclusive and that the analysis is of too many small and short-term studies. According to the American Heart Association, low-sodium diets help lower blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks.
We expect more research on this hot topic! Do you watch your salt intake?
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.