Thinking about reducing the sodium content in your diet? Well, there might be some merit to taking any talk about a low-sodium diet with a pinch of salt. Yes, it is a time-honored belief that following a low-sodium diet helps you keep your blood pressure under control. Even the Dietary Guidelines for Americans has recommended restricted sodium intake. However, a new study has come up contradicting this claim. According to a research study conducted by Boston University School of Medicine, a diet lower in sodium had no long-term beneficial effects on blood pressure. The new findings question the current sodium limits recommended by dietary guidelines.
Why Sodium Is Considered Harmful
Excess sodium intake will have negative consequences on your blood pressure, which is one of the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. This is because sodium in high amount causes your body to retain water. Thus, it creates an added burden on your heart. The most common form of sodium is sodium chloride, which is table salt. In the United States, the sources of almost 80% of sodium are packaged and restaurant foods.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans And Sodium Intake
The recommendations to limit sodium intake are always put forth with an eye towards a heart-healthy lifestyle. According to 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the sodium intake should be reduced. It advises people to adopt an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. The foods and beverages that are higher in these components should not be taken frequently as it may derail your healthy eating pattern. And the recommended intake is less than 2,300 milligrams per day of sodium.
The New Study Refutes Low-Sodium Diet
The new study says that consuming less salt is not linked to lower blood pressure. It states that salt may raise hormone levels in the body, which can keep blood pressure low. In the research study, 2,632 men and women of ages between 30 and 64 years old were part of the Framingham Offspring Study and were observed for 16 years. They all had normal blood pressure at the beginning of the research. Over the next 16 years, the researchers found that participants who consumed less than 2,500 milligrams of sodium a day had higher blood pressure than participants who consumed higher amounts of sodium. This observation about the consumption of sodium is, in fact, not new. There were other studies in the past, which support these findings.
Looking Back At Other Studies
The previous researchers have found a J-shaped relationship between sodium and cardiovascular risk. Difficult to grasp? Well, it means that people with low-sodium diets as per the Dietary Guidelines recommendations and people with a very high sodium diet had an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. And do you know who enjoys the lowest risk of heart diseases? Those people who had sodium intake in the middle of these ranges. As a matter of fact, most Americans fall in this range.
And What About Potassium?
Is it time to refocus on the intakes of foods rich in potassium? Yes, it seems so. In the study, researchers also found that people who had higher intakes of potassium, calcium, and magnesium showed lower blood pressure over the long term. Those people with a higher intake of both sodium and potassium exhibited the lowest blood pressure. Thus, the study also points out the importance of higher potassium intake and its impacts on blood pressure and cardiovascular health.
However, the study suggests that for salt-sensitive people, a low-sodium diet could be beneficial. It is seen that many people with high blood pressure are often sensitive to salt. Hence, reducing the consumption of sodium will help them lower blood pressure and other risks associated with it.