Contrary to popular belief that eating less salt lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke, the study found that cutting salt intake offers no benefits.
Lori Roman, president of the Salt Institute, stated, “A study by the world-renowned Cochrane Collaboration, published today in the American Journal of Hypertension, proves beyond any reasonable doubt that population-wide sodium reduction efforts provide no measurable benefits and may increase the risk of disease and death.
“In light of this, and other recent research, it is time for the government to cease its costly and wasteful efforts to reduce salt consumption until it can conclusively prove a tangible benefit for all consumers.
"This can only be done through a large-scale clinical trial on the impact of dietary salt reduction on health outcomes.”
The investigators found that patients with cardiac problems who cut back on their salt intake were actually at higher risk of death.
6500 people studied
In a bid to examine the link between salt reduction and mortality or cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke and heart surgery) the researchers conducted a study.
They reviewed the results from seven published studies that involved nearly 6,500 people who had been put on salt-reduction diet for at least six months.
Some of the subjects had high blood pressure and others had normal blood pressure. One study focused on salt reduction in people with heart failure.
The analysis revealed that while eating less salt slightly lowered blood pressure, there was no clear indication that it reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease or premature death in either group.
On the other hand, the investigators found that patients with cardiac problems who cut back on their salt intake were actually at higher risk of death.
Lead author of the study, Rod Taylor of the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry at Exeter University, stated that they did not see any big benefits in this study as the study participants reduced their salt intake by a moderate amount.
As a result the “effect on blood pressure and heart disease was not large.”
Need for further research
Based on the findings of the latest research, experts feel there is need for additional studies to determine if there are any clear health benefits from moderate reductions of salt intake.
Taylor stated, “With governments setting ever lower targets for salt intake, and food manufacturers working to remove it from their products, it’s really important that we do some large research trials to get a full understanding of the benefits and risks of reducing salt intake.”