Is salt bad for you? This is a hotly debated topic both in the medical community and at dinner tables across the country. The mantra that “too much salt is bad for you” has been repeated so many times, it’s tempting to accept it as fact. But recent evidence may be pointing to the opposite – that in fact, salt is good for you.
One thing is for sure – we need salt to live. Salt is necessary for body functions such as maintaining proper hydration levels and transmitting nerve impulses.
In fact, the average adult carries about about 250 grams of salt in their body. And since the human body cannot produce salt, it needs to come from diet. But can you have too much salt?
A 50 year study published in 2014 that looked at sodium intakes across dozens of countries. This study found that daily sodium intakes in adults were in the range between 2.6-4.8 grams per day. Americans average 3.5 grams of sodium per day.
These result indicate that regardless of daily quantities of sodium intake, our bodies have evolved to maintain a salt stasis in a relatively narrow range. So using the 250 gram level in a healthy adult, the daily sodium intake varies by less than 1% across all countries in the study.
These stats are leading scientists to reconsider whether conditions like heart attack or stroke are linked to high sodium diets.
In fact, some studies are pointing to the exact opposite – that those with LOWER sodium levels are INCREASING their risk of death by heart disease.
These 4 scientific studies are chipping away the notion that salt is bad for you.
- Journal of American Medical Association published a European report that subjects with less sodium in their urine had an increased risk of heart disease.
- In the American Journal of Hypertension, 6,250 subjects were studied and no link was found between reducing salt and reducing risk of death from heart disease.
- Experimental Biology 2017 concluded a 16 year study of 2,632 adults between 30-64 years old. The study demonstrated that there was no connection between those with low sodium levels and those with low blood pressure. Perhaps even more interesting was that subjects with diets of less than 2.5 grams of salt per day typically had higher blood pressure than those who consumed more than 2.5 grams per day.
- A study from the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at 3, 681 subjects. Again, it was found that those who practiced low sodium diets had increased cardiovascular death rates.
Is salt bad for you? The research is saying no.
Our bodies (and kidneys) are doing what they are designed to do – to maintain sodium levels naturally in the 250 gram range. And the body naturally eliminates the extra sodium we might eat during the particularly salty meal.
The medical community agrees that high blood pressure is linked to heart disease, strokes and death. However, based on the research, it is looking less and less likely that salt is the underlying cause of these conditions.
So it’s probably time to move away from the “salt is bad for you” adage. Our body needs sodium to survive, and several studies are indicating either no relation between salt and heart disease. And some are finding that low sodium diets can lead to higher risk for heart disease.
As with all ingredients, moderation is key. But don’t assume salt is bad for you because the research is telling a different story.