There are studies that dispute the “salt equals hypertension” theory. Fifty-seven trials reviewed over a 25-year period (1966-2001) showed that in individuals with normal blood pressure, a low-sodium diet resulted in an average decline of systolic blood pressure of just 1.27 mmHG and a decline of diastolic pressure of only 0.54 mmHg.
The Journal of the American Medical Association published the results of a study of 3,681 subjects for a median of 7.9 years that found death rates actually increased as the subjects ate less salt.
Yet another study (2011), conducted by the Cochrane Review (an independent group that takes no money from Big Pharma), examined seven prior studies that compared dietary salt restriction to a control group. The study specifically looked at the development of cardiovascular disease and mortality.
According to Cochrane, salt restriction resulted in a lowered systolic blood pressure of between 1 to 4 mmHG. There was no evidence that restricting salt resulted in lower rates of cardiovascular disease or mortality. In fact, salt restriction increased the risk of all-cause mortality (death from any cause) in those with heart failure by 259 percent.
Understanding human physiology can give you an idea why a low-salt diet is not a healthy alternative. Salt is the second most common substance in the human body, after water. Sodium and chloride — the main components of salt — are vital for hundreds of different chemical reactions in the body. In addition, salt is needed to hold water inside the cells, and adequate salt levels are necessary to maintain optimal blood pressure.
In fact, life itself is not possible without adequate amounts of sodium and chloride. Low intake of salt will lead to deficiency, and salt deficiency is a dangerous condition for the body as it triggers a cascade of hormonal responses.
If a shortage of salt occurs, aldosterone, a hormone secreted from the adrenal glands, causes the kidneys to retain more sodium, thereby raising blood pressure. Angiotensin, another adrenal hormone, also aids in this process of increasing sodium retention when the body senses a deficiency.
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