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Salt Intake: Inconclusive Findings, Moderation Key

By Bailey Mosier
 
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Women are notorious for being associated with cravings for chocolate and sweets. Personally, desserts aren’t what weakens me – I could go without chocolate for months – and often do. What I can’t live without, unfortunately, is food of the salty persuasion.

I don’t add extra salt to anything I eat, but rather always crave chips and salsa, Triscuits or mixed nuts. I’m not proud of it, but I’ll certainly own up to it if I’m ever brought into questioning.

And while most research tells us that salt intake can lead to high blood pressure and increase the risk of heart complications, a new study by Jan A. Staessen, MD, PhD, from the University of Leuven, Belgium said high salt intake may not be such a bad thing.

According to a recent article by Boston.com explaining the recent findings, “Eating less salt has been shown to modestly lower blood pressure in people with hypertension, but more than a dozen studies since the mid-1990s have reached conflicting conclusions about whether lowering salt intake helps healthy people avoid high blood pressure and its serious consequences: heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.”

This newest study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that “healthy people who eat the least amount of sodium don’t have any health advantage over those who eat the most. In fact, they had slightly higher death rates from heart disease.”

In the experiment, researchers measured urinary sodium levels in 3,681 healthy people with an average age of 40 and then followed their health for about eight years.

Scientists found that “those with the lowest levels of sodium — equivalent to consuming an average of nearly 2,500 mg, or just over one teaspoon per day — had no greater protection against high blood pressure after eight years than those who consumed the highest levels, nearly 6,000 mg per day on average,” according to WebMD.

"Our current findings refute the estimates of computer models of lives saved and health care costs reduced with lower salt intake," Staessen and colleagues concluded in their research.

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