Here’s the Science on Low-Salt Diets

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), death from cardiovascular disease could be reduced by 1.2 million people over the next decade if Americans limited their sodium intake to just 1,500 milligrams. Dieticians and health experts are quick to recommend a low sodium diet. Doctors often say that salt intake is a leading cause of high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney disease. The Center for Science in the Public Interest even labels salt as “perhaps the deadliest ingredient in our food supply.” Salt has been vilified for years, but why is that?

Dr. James DiNicolantonio, a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, has a much different perspective on salt after studying its impact on human health over the past ten years. His research on salt led him to publish: “The Salt Fix: Why the Experts Got it All Wrong—and How Eating More Might Save Your Life.” Dr. DiNicolantonio says that many people’s bodies are actually starving for salt. According to research, low salt diets could be doing more harm than good.

A low salt diet can be dangerous, causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, stiffened arteries: Early on in his career as a community pharmacist, Dr. DiNicolantonio observed the negative health effects of a low sodium diet. Patients on a low sodium diet who also took low blood pressure medication often reported dizziness, dehydration and rapid heartbeat. When these patients were tested, their sodium levels were dangerously low. In almost every case, the doctor stopped the medication or cut the dose in half. Equally important, the doctor told the patients to add salt to their food to get their sodium levels back up.

The human body has adapted over several centuries to metabolize large quantities of salt. Before refrigeration and widespread use of synthetic preservatives, salt was the standard preservative and flavor enhancement. The human body requires sodium to maintain a proper balance of fluids in the cells. Sodium is essential for cardiovascular function, muscle contraction, and for regulating nerve impulses. Read more…

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