News / Health

Study: Cutting Salt Might Increase Heart Risks

Low-sodium diet results in modest decrease in blood pressure, but also higher cholesterol

A recent study finds people on low-sodium diets have higher levels of cholesterol, which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
A recent study finds people on low-sodium diets have higher levels of cholesterol, which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

Multimedia

Audio
Art Chimes

A new study casts doubt on the merits of reducing salt in our diet. The researchers found that a modest lowering of blood pressure may be offset by other less desirable effects of a low-sodium diet.

For years it's been part of accepted medical wisdom: reducing salt in your diet will lower your blood pressure, which will lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.

But according to Danish researcher Niels Graudal of Copenhagen University Hospital, the effect of a reduced-salt diet is less dramatic than you might think.

"We found that in normal persons with normal blood pressure, the effects on the blood pressure were surprisingly small. In patients with hypertension, the effect was somewhat bigger: the decrease was about 3.5 percent," he says.

Graudal mathematically combined the results of 167 previous studies to come up with his results. The people in the studies were largely European and North American, although Asians and blacks on low-sodium diets showed a somewhat larger reduction in their blood pressure.

Even a modest reduction for people with high blood pressure is probably a good thing, but the study also found that people on a low-sodium diet had higher levels of cholesterol, which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

Graudal says the body's natural salt-regulation system was also affected by a low-sodium diet. "And we saw that when you reduce the sodium intake, the hormone system was activated, which means that the body obviously felt that there was a danger that the amount of salt in the body could become too low."

It might be more helpful to look directly for a link between salt consumption and heart disease or death, but Graudal says very few studies have tried to do that.

"It would be very difficult to make a randomized, a big randomized study and keep people on special diets for many years," he explains. "Practically that would be very, very difficult."

Graudal cautions that his study should not be interpreted as a license to eat as much salt as you want. He says it just confirms that a moderate amount of salt in a normal diet is probably not harmful, and reducing salt intake has both positive and negative effects that might not help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

His paper reviewing previous studies on the impact of low-sodium diets is published in the American Journal of Hypertension.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid