Is salt bad for you?

We’ve all heard that salt is supposed to be bad for us. But is there any proof of that? A new review of all the best science shows that there is not. There is no evidence that reducing the amount of salt you eat will reduce your risk of either heart disease or premature death.

This does not mean that unlimited amounts of salt is necessarily safe. Eating a moderate amount is probably best. At least try to avoid the salt in fast food, processed, packaged food and soda. Even if the salt doesn’t matter much it means you’ll avoid other unhealthy things.

TIME: Does Cutting Salt Really Improve Heart Health?

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17 Comments

  1. Jason
    Yeah, but the article in Time still says salt is baaaad despite showing that the evidence is contradictory:

    "Although lowering dietary salt resulted in a small dip in blood pressure, the researchers found no strong evidence that it reduced rates of death in people with high or normal blood pressure. One study suggested that restricting salt in patients with congestive heart failure could even potentially increase risk of death."

    Yet they go on to say that the researcher is not saying don't cut out salt! Oh goodness no! And by the way, here are some suggestions on how to cut salt (just in case those that had suffered congestive heart failure wanted to increase their risk of death, I guess?).

    The evidence is there, why don't they see it? My BP dropped from 149/87 to 118/78 in a matter of two weeks after I gave up carbohydrates. I ate as much salt as I want, and I continue to do so.

  2. I'm realizing after 7 years on this low carb journey that salt is indeed not the enemy. Empty carbs and sugar are. My blood pressure is better than ever and, although I don't load my food with salt, I do salt it for flavour and stay away from a lot of processed crap in my LCHF diet. People need to point the finger at the true villain... carbs and sugar, to reclaim their health!
  3. I think I have cut down on my sodium intake since going low-carb simply because I eat many fewer processed/ packaged foods. In the the old days, I often had canned soup for lunch, and I only bought the low sodium soups when they were on sale, which wasn't often. At dinner, we would often have pasta as a side dish that came from a box with a "flavor packet" loaded with salt. And of course I ate salty snacks, such as corn or potato chips. I still eat some salty snacks, such as roasted almonds, but not in great amounts, and I still salt my food, but all that packaged stuff is gone.

    That said, I've never seemed to have a reaction to salt. My blood pressure was borderline high at times, but I attribute that to being 60-70 pounds overweight!

    I think people doing scientific research on diet are trying to help, but they seem to reach a lot of hasty conclusions, which they then feel compelled to defend for years on end.

  4. Milton
    Jim, I've done much the same. By lowering my overall food intake, and particularly by reducing or eliminating many snack foods and sugary drinks (both of which often contain a lot of sodium) I've reduced my sodium intake by a pretty good amount. As usual, if you reduce or eliminate your intake of refined and processed foods, particularly snack foods and sugary drinks, you can fix a lot of health problems.
  5. Paul
    Perhaps salt is a marker of (unhealthy) processed food and this explains why it has been associated with poor health. Instead of taking salt out of processed food, we should take the processed food out of the salt. I go with Jeff Volek and use plenty of salt as part of my low-carbing.
  6. DeniseT
    I've also found that I enjoy sea salt, but table salt leaves me cold.
    I rarely ever eat anything processed anymore, so overall my salt intake is likely lower, even though I tend to use salty rubs on my foods.
    The key is that it isn't the salt that is raising my blood pressure, its the carbs.
    But then again, noone ever studies "risky" foods in absence of carbs..so they just don't have a clue on the other side of the study.
  7. boots
    Dr. Loren Cordain, actually talks about salt in a seminar. From my understanding that salt can actually causes you to depletes more calcium from the bone at a higher rate, linking it to osteoporosis. Start around 1:03:23: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dw1MuD9EP4
  8. low body fat
    Although I agree with the idea that too little salt could lead to heart disease, I can't take this study seriously... there were just too many confounding variables. People are more susceptible to cardiovascular diseases as they get older, and I don't think testing only on 40-50 year old ppl would give us an accurate enough picture. I also heard that a lot of the people that died were heavy smokers, which should have been screened out in the first place imo.
  9. Amelia
    I've heaped salt on everything all of my 50 yrs and my blood pressure has always been super low. Just had it taken at the doctor's the other day and it was 90/58, that's right about where it's always been. I've wondered if I had some sort of deficiency because I crave salt all the time.
  10. Philip
    I have had to cut back salt to < 1000 mg per day to control tinnitis from Meniere's disease.

    If I keep salt to a minimum I have almost no ringing in my ears. If I eat sausage or other very salty foods it's like a constant buzzing in my ears and I have to have noise in the background to cover it up or I go nuts. And too much salt makes me so dizzy I can't stand up. Imagine waking up in the morning with the room spinning so bad you can't get out of bed.

    I've talked with other Meniere's disease sufferers who have had the same experience with salt. Keeping low helps minimize the ringing.

    So there are other reasons to cut back on salt besides the ones commonly stated.

  11. pamela coats
    Salt retsind fluids in my body I can retain 3 lbs in one night
  12. Paul
    This is because salt is in no way bad for you. it is like anything else (including water) where if you get to much of it there's consequences.
    Seems like everywhere i go there's something saying yes salt is bad for you, well you will die without it! The more salt you eat the more water you need to drink and your body will get rid of the access salt, it's that simple.

    P.S. above i see something about a low carb diet. that is the stuff that will kill you. starving your body of carbs is no different the starving your body from food all together, this is why when you are on a specific diet like low carbs you crave things that are high in carbs

  13. tony
    It's very difficult to prove that salt is bad because those who cut down then don't get the disease they were on course to get. A very interesting read is the gerson therapy for the treatment and I guess avoidance of degenerative diseases. Max gerson , after many years of study maintains that sodium attaches it to our cells and draws water into them. This watetlogs them and stops them functioning properly. This can then lead to disease. I would like to hear a modern scientific answer to this apart from scoffing.
  14. Linda
    I've always believed salt is good for you and have been using sea salt for many years. I found out tonight from watching a TV program called Herb Dock (in Canada) - that the processed salt - sodium chloride - is highly heat processed and is not good for you. That is probably why doctors tell their patients to cut their salt intake, but they probably don't know this, but, sea salt is good for you, as it's loaded with minerals. They probably believe salt is salt. So the "sodium chloride salt" that is processed is what you shouldn't be using, but using sea salt instead. But of course, it would be hard to eliminate the sodium chloride if you eat a lot of processed foods. I am on the low carb/high fat diet and before that I didn't buy very much processed food anyway except for a few canned goods, like soup.
  15. David Vandevert, PhD
    I would suggest the following article:

    L B Page, D E Vandevert, K Nader, N K Lubin, and J R Page Blood pressure of Qash'qai pastoral nomads in Iran in relation to culture, diet, and body form.
    Am J Clin Nutr April 1981 34: 527-38
    QASH'QAI NOMADS IN IRAN . Middle East...collection to assess salt intake?

    Dr Page is a well-known medical doctor and researcher in a number of low acculturation-high salt populations in Africa, New Guinea, and Iran. The premise was that non-acculturated groups or tribes who consumed a high amount of salt used in cooking and eating would display high blood pressure. These premises were proven by these studies.

  16. GuyJeb
    Linked Article is not found. Anyone know where we can find it?
  17. Zepp
    Its found by me!

    Must be some problem with your browser?

    http://healthland.time.com/2011/07/07/cutting-salt-may-not-reduce-hea...

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