Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Eating Less Salt May Not Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Contrary to what medical experts have been saying for years, a new study suggests salt may not be as bad for the heart as commonly believed.

Researchers from the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth in Exeter, U.K. reviewed data from seven studies with nearly 6,500 participants who reduced their salt intake and found that while eating less salt did lower blood pressure, it did not reduce the risk of dying or of having heart disease.

But this finding doesn't mean people can eat as much salt as they want. The authors caution that they don't have enough data to come to any firm conclusions about salt intake and heart disease.

"We would require some 2,500 cardiovascular events in over 18,000 trial participants to detect a small reduction in relative risk," they wrote. They also said that the study subjects only moderately lowered their sodium intake, so the effect on blood pressure and heart disease was small.

Numerous experts who were not involved with this research weighed in on the findings, and their opinions are mixed. They agree more data are needed to provide a better explanation of the findings and that there are other limitations to the study design, but debate how big a role sodium plays in the development of heart disease.

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