Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Is salt really hard on your heart? Not necessarily.

It seems given that a high-salt diet is bad for you. But a high-anything diet is bad for you. Is salt really worse than anything else? Why should it be? What's the science?

LA Times ran a piece recently showing the strongest link yet between salt and cardiovascular disease. But it's a tenuous link. The 15-year study started by having a group of people cut 25-35 percent of the sodium out of their diets for four years. Ten years later, researchers found the group lowered its risk for heart disease 25 percent. But they couldn't say whether or not the group maintained their low-salt diet.

"There are so many questions left to answer," say skeptics.

For one, your kidneys can filter up to 500-times the daily recommended amount of sodium from your body. So unless you have bum kidneys, you should be okay.

Also, and this is a kicker, "at least some studies show that people who eat the least amount of salt have the highest risk of cardiovascular disease." Low salt intake can stiffen arteries and boost production of chemicals (like an enzyme called rennin) that boost your risk for heart disease.

Alas, the majority of experts agree we should all cut back on our salt intake. "From a public health standpoint, salt is like tobacco and saturated fat… it's worth advising everyone to avoid them," the Times found.

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.