The Salt Dilemma

Prevailing beliefs have probably led you to put down the salt-shaker at the dinner table.  Since the 1970’s policymakers in the world of science have suggested that salt consumption raises blood pressure, causes hypertension, and increases the risk of premature death. 

A recent New York Times article questions conventional wisdom by providing a summary of the current and historical scientific research done on salt.  It turns out research studies supporting the eat-less-salt recommendations have been labeled as “inconclusive or contradictory” or “inconsistent and contradictory” by many in the scientific community.  A recent “meta-analyses” study done by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded that “the amount of salt eaten reduces blood pressure, but there is insufficient evidence to confirm the predicted reductions in people dying prematurely or suffering cardiovascular disease”. 

In Italy researchers published results from a series of clinical trials that actually presented the potential dangers of a low salt diet.  They found that among patients with heart failure, reducing salt consumption increased the risk of death.  Further studies have shown that reducing sodium to what government policy refers to as a “safe upper limit” is likely to do more harm than good.

The varying results of scientific studies on the impact of salt on health outcomes make it unfair to draw a conclusion on the subject.   It is important not to confuse popular theories with scientific facts.  The next time you’re at the dinner table maybe a dab of salt on your meal isn’t such a bad idea after all?

For a link to the NYT article visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/03/opinion/sunday/we-only-think-we-know-the-truth-about-salt.html?pagewanted=all